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Other Environmental Impacts //

In this section, we report on other environmental impacts of relevance to us as well as the broader mining industry, even though our stakeholders did not rate these as highly significant in our latest materiality assessment.

Energy And Emissions

Energy consumption represents one of our largest operating costs, so we focus on conservation. This improves our environmental performance while saving money. Our two main uses of energy at our operations are electrical power and fuel for transport. Stationary energy is comprised of purchased electricity (all three of our operations draw from state power grids), diesel for generators and natural gas for the smelting furnaces at Guanaceví.

2017 highlights:

  • Energy consumption fell slightly from 636,404 gigajoules (GJ) per tonne processed in 2016 to 627,595 in 2017. However, production was 22% lower than 2016 and, as a result, energy intensity – the amount of energy required to process each tonne of material – increased by 11% year-over-year, from 0.44 in 2016 to 0.49 GJ/tonne in 2017. This is because equipment needs to run the same amount of time whether production is at minimum or optimal capacity.
  • Our sites have been working on energy efficiency measures including the power factor, which should be above 95%. The sites currently are between 92 to 94%, and the energy utility (CFE) has incentives and guidelines in place to help those facilities that reach above 95%.
  • GHG emissions dropped marginally to 72,849 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, compared to 73,409 tonnes in 2016. However, for similar reasons cited above there was a 13% increase in intensity. Purchased electricity remained our biggest source of emissions (90%).
  • Guanaceví continues to generate the highest energy emissions of our mines, accounting for half of total emissions. This site purchases more power and consumes more propane, which are needed for dry-stack tailings process, the pumping of excess groundwater, and running the employee campsite, which is heated in winter and air conditioned in summer.

Since 2015 the Mexican Law on Climate Change mandates mining companies to include reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of the annual environmental reporting (along with hazardous waste, spills, discharges, etc.). As of 2018, it will be mandatory for organizations with emissions exceeding 25,000 tonnes of CO2e to have their previous year’s emissions independently audited by an authorized third party. Only one of our mines – Guanaceví – was above this threshold in 2017.

ES-2017-Report-Graphs_20

Biodiversity

We are committed to protecting and preserving ecosystems where we operate. For all of our development and exploration projects, we have conducted environmental impact assessments to identify endangered or at-risk flora or fauna, and have found no significant impacts on local biodiversity generated by our activities. While none of our sites are legally required to have biodiversity management plans, all have nurseries to grow local flora and programs in place for replanting disturbed areas.

None of our mining properties are located within or close to protected areas. Part of the Terronera project’s land would be within the buffer zone of a proposed Natural Protected Area; however, the buffer zone would permit mining and other economic activities. In addition, none of our properties contain threatened species, according to the world’s most comprehensive inventory of threatened plant and animal species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, there are some species around our operations with special status:

  • One species of snake – the Cascabel – has protected status in Mexico and is present at all of our sites. We have trained our people to identify, rescue and relocate Cascabel snakes if found. In 2017, across our operations there were 18 snakes relocated.
  • A species of white-tailed deer near Guanaceví, while not endangered, is protected from hunting. We have posted no-hunting signage in the area.
  • The only site with identified endangered flora and fauna species is Terronera, and we continue collaborating with the Commission for Natural Protected Areas to minimize any potential impact.