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Environmental Compliance and Management //

Why It Matters

Respecting the environment and the laws designed to protect it is integral to how we operate, our corporate reputation and the ecological health of our host communities. A good environmental track record, as well as compliance with local laws and international guideliness, are keys to gaining community support and a social license to operate.

As a mining company, we honour a broad and detailed range of requirements stipulated by environmental agencies and legislation in Mexico and Canada. In recent years, for example, as environmental concerns have increased around the world, environmental permitting for the resource sector has become more stringent and somewhat less predictable in terms of timelines.

Management Approach

We are dedicated to understanding, managing and fulfilling our environmental goals and responsibilities. In both Mexico and Canada, we strive to meet and, where possible, exceed environmental laws, regulations and other requirements such as site permits to operate.

Environmental framework

To support our environmental compliance obligations and objectives, we have a comprehensive environmental framework in place, including strict environmental monitoring systems and controls at each of our sites. Environmental risks are evaluated as part of our corporate risk management procedures. Senior management is involved in identifying and monitoring environmental risks, so that we can improve our performance.

Environmental Policy

Our Environmental Policy articulates our commitment to environmental protection: to prevent or mitigate, as much as reasonably possible, the impacts of mining on the natural environment, improve the efficiency of our use of natural resources (e.g. land, water, energy), reduce waste, and increase waste recycling through effective, efficient improvements to our policies and practices.

Oversight

The Regional Environmental Manager in Mexico oversees environmental matters at our mines. Each mine has an environmental coordinator who monitors day-to-day operations and helps facilitate the necessary permitting for our mining projects. Environmental matters are reported to management as part of the overall review of operations during our regular meetings. Our environmental group monitors environmental suppliers, to ensure their procedures and standards comply with government regulations and that they are aware of our environmental commitments and principles.

Our Performance In 2017

2017 was a challenging year in terms of environmental complaints:

  • At El Cubo, a community complaint about dust blowing into a local water source from one of our tailings ponds triggered a visit from the Mexican environmental protection authority (PROFEPA). The agency did not find any evidence that tailings dust was blowing into a natural water seep, which is not and never was used as a fresh water source. However, an Environmental Impact Assessment had never been completed on that tailings pond because it preceded such legislation. As a result, in November PROFEPA suspended the operation of this tailings pond until the necessary assessment is completed and filed (accomplished in March 2018).
  • The same issue exists at the El Cubo mine site as a whole. As this is an older mine, an Environmental Impact Assessment was not legally required when we initiated redevelopment there in 2012. Our environmental department has been working with the authorities to secure the necessary documentation and permits for the mine site as a whole and the tailings pond in particular (accomplished in March 2018). During the suspension of the tailings area, we redirected waste to a previously used tailings pond, which was rehabilitated to accommodate new tailings storage.
  • At Bolañitos, we received new complaints that our blasting activities were causing cracks in house walls in the town of La Luz. We previously investigated such complaints and found the cracks to be old and the complaints to be unsubstantiated, but we completed additional studies to show authorities the veracity of our previous work.
  • Additionally, we received one fine in 2017. In Bolañitos, we were fined 849,942.00 Mexican pesos (~US$45,000) by PROFEPA because we had not conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment for one of the access ramps (Ramp 2100) in an area of historic mining disturbance adjacent to the plant. Although our understanding was that such new mine development was permitted in previously disturbed areas, we are undertaking the necessary assessment in 2018, and have made changes to ensure all legal requirements are met at all our mines.

Our environmental protection expenditures in 2017 were about 1.49 million and fit into several categories:

  • Environmental studies, which include environmental impact assessments and permitting
  • Transportation and final disposition for waste (hazardous, non-hazardous and special)
  • Monitoring for water, waste, tailings, noise, gases and dust
  • Projects, which include reforestation, rehabilitation or remediation works, signage and environmental education campaigns
  • Tailings ponds works

2018 Priorities

  • Participate in the Environmental Audit Program carried out by PROFEPA, in order to apply for the “Clean Industry” certification for each of our three producing mines.