Healthy Environments Now and For the Future
We carefully plan, design and build operations to mitigate our environmental impacts, and work with host communities and governments to ensure that our operations meet acceptable standards of practice and adhere to regulations. By investing in best available technologies and implementing leading environmental practices, we seek to safely manage tailings and waste, restore disturbed land, reduce our water and energy consumption and protect the ecosystems surrounding our sites.
Environmental laws and regulations vary in each of our operating jurisdictions, and we rely on our teams across the Company to understand regulations and align our operations to legal requirements. In addition to regional regulations, SIMS provides environmental performance requirements for all of our sites. We align our operations to international best practices and standards, including MAC’s TSM framework, the RGMPs, and others described in Our Approach to Responsible Mining.
We have achieved certification under the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard at our Kışladağ, Efemçukuru, Olympias and Stratoni mines.
Energy and Climate Change
Climate change is a global issue that has the potential to impact our operations, stakeholders and the communities in which we operate. Our energy consumption is the primary determinant of our ability to contribute to global climate change goals. To maintain the resilience of our business from both the direct effects of climate change, as well as the ways the world may respond to climate change, Eldorado seeks to manage climate-related risks and opportunities.
Eldorado’s climate-related physical and transition risks and opportunities are discussed in detail in our Climate Change & GHG Emissions Report, found on our Sustainability Reporting page.
As we implement our Climate Strategy to reduce GHG emissions, we recognize the importance of holding our progress to account through measurement and disclosure. This is why Eldorado is setting a target to mitigate 65,000 tonnes or 30% of Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions in our 2020 baseline from our current operating mines by 2030 on a “business-as-usual” basis.
This target accounts for the potential future growth of our operations and energy needs of our sites, while focusing on discrete and available opportunities to reduce emissions. Operating mines included in the target are Lamaque, Kışladağ, Efemçukuru, Olympias and Stratoni. Eldorado does not expect uniform GHG emission reductions from each operating mine. Progress towards the target will be measured on a discrete basis by quantifying GHG emission mitigations and reductions relative to a “business-as-usual” scenario. As new mines come into operations our GHG emissions may increase. Eldorado will seek to implement energy efficient systems, technologies and processes at new projects to support the spirit of our target and our journey towards decarbonization.
At our Lamaque mine in Quebec, Canada, ore is mined and transferred from the Triangle deposit to the Sigma Mill, located approximately four kilometers apart. Since beginning commercial production in 2019, ore has been hauled to surface at Triangle, transferred to trucks that can drive on public roads, and hauled an additional 13 kilometers to the Sigma mill via public roads. This resulted in increased traffic on public roads, safety risks, and greenhouse gas emissions produced by the roughly 26 kilometers round trip for each truck.
To mitigate these impacts and improve the efficiency of our ore handling processes at Lamaque, Eldorado began construction of an underground decline to connect the Triangle underground mine to the Sigma Mill. In late 2021, this project was completed with the creation of an approximately four kilometers decline ramp underground. The Lamaque decline ramp will allow for underground haul trucks to carry ore directly to the Sigma Mill and eliminates the need to haul materials on public roads. By doing so, Lamaque is expected to mitigate over 1,000 tonnes of GHG emissions each year while making public roads safer for local communities.
Tailings and Waste
Mining generates various forms of waste, including overburden, waste rock, tailings, slag, mine water, sludge and refuse. Eldorado stores, disposes or reuses waste responsibly, in line with environmental and industrial waste regulations.
Eldorado is proud of our tailings management practices, and we work to mitigate associated risks through the use of best available technologies such as dry-stack tailings. We also implement leading management practices such as retaining an Independent Tailings Review Board (ITRB) as an opportunity to strengthen management and governance in accordance with internationally recognized best practices.
Eldorado’s Technical Services, Projects & Engineering and Sustainability Departments oversee and manage Eldorado’s tailings facilities. We rely on Engineers of Record and third-party experts to support in the design, construction, operation, maintenance, surveillance and closure of tailings facilities. Eldorado’s COO and CSO are responsible for overseeing the operation, management and commercial matters related to tailings management facilities. Ultimately, Eldorado’s President & CEO is responsible for the Company’s tailings management practices. Eldorado’s Technical Committee of the Board of Directors provides oversight of technical matters related to tailings, and the Sustainability Committee has oversight of sustainability-related tailings matters.
Implementing Leading Practices
Tailings are created when mined ore is processed through water-based solutions to separate valuable metals from surrounding rock. Once metals are separated and collected, the remaining mixture of water, waste rock and residual chemicals result in an uneconomic material that must be stored securely.
Tailings are typically stored in a liquid, or wet form, within purposely constructed tailings dams. Properly constructed and maintained tailings management facilities pose manageable risks. Tailings containment failure is typically due to design conditions not being maintained. Containment failure of wet tailings has higher consequences to the surrounding environment due to higher flow-availability.
Dry-stack technology is an alternative method of tailings management that removes most of the water from tailings. The water is recycled for future mining uses or discharged into the environment and the dry tailings are transported and stored in tailings management facilities (TMFs).
Eldorado currently utilizes dry-stack tailings at our Efemçukuru, Olympias and Stratoni mines. Dry-stack tailings from the Olympias and Stratoni mines are stored at the Kokkinolakkas Tailings Management Facility. Kışladağ does not produce tailings.
Eldorado’s SIMS Tailings Facility Stewardship Standard aligns with internationally recognized best practice and corporate commitments under the WGC’s RGMPs and MAC’s TSM.
More information about Eldorado’s current dry-stack tailings management facilities can be found in our latest Sustainability Report.
Dry-stack tailings have many advantages over wet or thickened tailings, as it pertains to environment and safety. The high density allows the material to occupy less space, reducing the environmental footprint of the tailings facility. Water removed from tailings can also be recycled, reducing water use. The tailings solidity also significantly improves safety and stability in steep terrains and during flooding or seismic events.
Our ground and dam liner system at the Kokkinolakkas TMF is made of four independent layers of highly durable woven and non-woven geotextile materials that are double seam welded. This liner system prevents seepage of contact water and tailings into the surrounding soil. To protect water from contamination and to maintain the integrity of the Kokkinolakkas TMF, we carefully monitor and manage water in and around the site. We have built infrastructure to:
- Divert the naturally occurring Kokkinolakkas creek through a 1.1 km tunnel, preventing creek water from coming into contact with the site
- Channel non-contact rain and groundwater away from the facility through drainage ditches
- Collect all contact water in a seepage pond for testing and treatment prior to discharging
- A 24/7 monitoring systems collect environmental and ground stability data from across the facility
- Integrated drainage channels to decrease flood risk and prevent water and soil contamination
Water and Air
Availability and access to water is critical for our mining operations. We use water for mineral processing, dust suppression, slurry transport and personal consumption. Responsible management of water resources is therefore essential to our long-term sustainable development, and to our environmental stewardship and relationships with local stakeholders.
Effective water management and recycling practices help limit our reliance on water sources, and effective governance ensures that water discharges fall within the parameters of our permits and licenses.
Eldorado’s SIMS Water Stewardship standard provides a set of minimum performance requirements for Eldorado’s water management practices. Sites will manage water in conformance with Level A of the MAC-TSM Water Stewardship Protocol.
All water drawn from surface water, groundwater, seawater, or a third party for any use
How we interact with water
Most of our water withdrawals are resultant of pumped water that has infiltrated the mines, originating from renewable groundwater sources, and used predominantly in ore processing. Water withdrawals are done in accordance with local regulations and our applicable permits.
All water that has been withdrawn and used in production, evaporated, transpired, generated as waste, stored, or otherwise rendered unusable to others, and is therefore not released back to surface water, groundwater, seawater, or a third party
How we interact with water
Recycled water makes up the majority of our water consumption, particularly at those sites where we have zero water-discharge requirements. Where possible, we seek to recycle water in processes and across our operations. Recycled water is used for mineral processing, dust suppression and slurry transport as well as throughout our leach pad areas and adsorption, desorption, recovery (ADR) carbon plants. Water is also stored in TMFs and used for human consumption onsite, and minor losses are attributable to evaporation.
All water that has been used or unused and released to surface water, groundwater, seawater, or a third party
How we interact with water
All water that comes into contact with our sites is treated and tested before being discharged back to the environment (e.g., rivers, lakes, and reinjection into groundwater). We discharge water in accordance with local regulations and our applicable permits and licenses. Some of our sites, such as Skouries, have zero water-discharge requirements.
Air and Dust
We recognize the impacts of air pollution and dust to our workforce, surrounding communities and the environment, and actively work to manage pollution and dust at our operating sites. Within SIMS, we have established an Air, Noise, and Vibration Management standard that aligns with internationally recognized best practices, such as the IFC General EHS Guidelines, and includes requirements such as maintaining dust control and air quality monitoring plans.
Biodiversity and Reclamation
Eldorado designs and constructs our projects to minimize land disturbance while prioritizing a safe working environment for our employees and contractors.
Constructing and operating our mines can have a significant impact on local land, environments and communities, though many of these impacts can be reversed. Environmental reclamation practices such as deconstructing closed facilities, treating contaminated soil and revegetating areas where trees and/or other plants were removed help to revitalize the impacted land.
Managing biodiversity is an important part of our mine plans and closure plans, and is addressed within SIMS, which includes requirements such as conformance with Level A of the MAC-TSM Biodiversity Conservation Management Protocol and implementation of Biodiversity Management Plans.
Eldorado does not operate or own sites in any of the following internationally recognized protected areas: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Area Categories I-IV, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).
Eldorado recognizes that our projects and operations have local environmental impacts, including land disturbance. As part of our permitting and project development processes, we work to understand what these impacts may be and how we can develop controls and systems to mitigate these impacts. We also seek to develop reclamation and closure plans, which provide a detailed plan for how we will return disturbed land back to nature when it is no longer needed for mining operations.
In the past, reclamation was often viewed as something that occurs after a mine is closed. At Eldorado, we believe that reclaiming unused areas as we progress our operations is better for the environment, our workforce and local communities. As areas across our operating sites are no longer needed for mining activities, we advance progressive reclamation works to dismantle infrastructure, mitigate risks related to environmental contamination, and reclaim land to a state of nature. In 2021, we planted over 8,000 saplings at the Kışladağ waste rock area as part of our efforts to advance continuous reclamation, while at the Kassandra Mines we continue to reclaim areas left disturbed as a result of historic mining operations that took place prior to Eldorado’s activities.