From exploration to reclamation, mining impacts economies, societies and the environment by producing the materials necessary for modern life. At each stage of the mining life cycle, we work to create value for all stakeholders that will last beyond the life of our projects while looking out for the well-being of the environment. In the last part of this 3-part series, we explore the final mining life cycle stages at Eldorado Gold.
Our outputs comprise the products we produce, namely, gold, silver, lead and zinc. Our Marketing teams are responsible for establishing working relationships and purchasing agreements with downstream refineries. These agreements outline the terms and conditions of payment for our products, and specify parameters and penalties for the quantity, quality and chemical composition of our doré and concentrate.
Reclamation and Closure (2–5 years, plus ongoing management)
Our ultimate goal for each of our projects is to leave a lasting legacy of positive economic, social and environmental impacts in the areas where we operate. In order to do so, we work to restore land used by our mining operations to its original state, and improve environmental conditions in cases where we have inherited environmental damage from previous owners.
While the majority of our environmental rehabilitation and reclamation work begins after mine closure, we conduct remediation and reclamation alongside mining activities, reducing the amount of disturbed land while the mine operates.
Prior to and throughout a mine’s operation, our Operations teams continuously enhance plans for mine reclamation and closure in order to:
- Protect public health and safety
- Eliminate the potential for environmental damage
- Return the land to its original condition (or an acceptable and productive alternative)
- Provide for long-term socio-economic benefits
- Set aside sufficient funds as part of asset retirement obligations Key Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts of Reclamation and Closure
- Jobs and government revenues decrease as business activities wind down
- Environmental impacts such as land disturbance are reversed, and the ecology of the mine site is restored to its near-original state
Care and Maintenance
At times, either due to a decrease in the market price of our products (e.g. at the previously producing Vila Nova mine) or due to other obstacles to further investment such as delays in permitting (e.g. at Skouries), the Company may place a project or mine into care and maintenance.
During this phase of a project’s life cycle, the only investments made in the project are to keep equipment and facilities in working order, keep permits in good standing and to maintain environmental protection activities so that operations can restart smoothly should conditions change.
Placing a project on care and maintenance typically involves a reduction in the workforce as well as a reduction in site activities, leading to decreased impacts overall. Maintaining the integrity of our facilities, including tailings management facilities, is our primary goal when a project is placed under care and maintenance.
More information on our mining life cycle and other sustainability aspects can be found in our 2019 Sustainability Report.