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 technologies and implementing leading environmental practices, where feasible, 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 has set a target to mitigate Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by an amount equal to 30% of our 2020 baseline from 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 as our first step toward decarbonization.
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 toward 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 operation, our GHG emissions may increase. While operations other than those listed above are not currently included in our target, Eldorado will seek to integrate carbon considerations into the design and construction of new projects, such as through implementation of energy efficient systems, technologies and processes and procurement of energy from low-carbon and renewable sources, in alignment with our Climate Change Strategy.
Tailings and Waste
Recent tailings-related incidents have underscored the importance of responsible mine waste management. Eldorado is committed to implementing leading practices in tailings management.
Eldorado is proud of our tailings management practices, and we work to mitigate associated risks through the use of technologies such as dry-stack tailings. We also implement leading management practices such as retaining an Independent Tailings Review Board.
Eldorado’s Technical Services, Projects & Engineering department oversees and manages 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 EVP & COO is 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.
In 2022, we began to develop a Global Tailings Stewardship Program that integrates with SIMS and leading external frameworks, including TSM and the RGMPs, and will seek to bring consistency and create a shared knowledge base across our global operations. The program will capture all stages and areas of tailings management and governance, including design, construction, operation, closure, monitoring, inspection, analysis, risk assessment, audit, training, emergency response and preparedness, stakeholder engagement and communications.
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 results in an uneconomic material that must be stored securely.
Tailings are typically stored in a liquid, or wet form, within purposely constructed tailings dams or tailings management facilities (TMFs). Properly designed, constructed and maintained TMFs 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-ability.
The water is recycled for future mining uses or treated and discharged into the environment and the dry tailings are transported and stored in TMFs.
Eldorado currently utilizes dry-stack tailings at our Efemçukuru and Olympias mines. Dry-stack tailings from the Olympias mine are stored at the Kokkinolakkas Tailings Management Facility. As a heap leach operation, Kışladağ does not produce tailings. In 2021, Eldorado received approval from the Greek state to use dry-stack tailings at Skouries.
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. In 2022, Lamaque underwent Eldorado’s first SIMS Compliance Verification and achieved Level AAA under the MAC-TSM Tailings Management Protocol, which is the highest level of performance a site can achieve.
Eldorado has established an Independent Tailings Review Board (ITRB) as an opportunity to strengthen management and governance in accordance with internationally recognized best practices. In 2022, Eldorado progressed its tailings stewardship program by conducting ITRB reviews and site visits. The site visits provided opportunities for our internal teams to learn from world-class experts on safe tailings design, construction and operation. The ITRB process continues to provide Eldorado with valuable opinions and non-binding recommendations to continuously strengthen the safety of our tailings facilities globally. The ITRB will seek to conduct biannual reviews of Eldorado’s tailings management facilities globally.
More information about Eldorado’s current dry-stack tailings management facilities can be found in our latest Sustainability Report.
At Kışladağ, we operate heap leach facilities to extract gold from mined ore and, in doing so, we apply strict management practices and voluntary standards to mitigate associated risks and uphold the safety and health of our people, host communities and the environment.
What is heap leaching?
Heap leaching starts with placing finely crushed ore onto a dedicated, lined area, called a heap leach pad, using conveyors. New ore is stacked in layers known as “lifts,” which are separated by liners constructed of high-density polyethylene membranes. Diluted cyanide solution is irrigated though the stacked ore to leach out gold. The interlift liners direct the gold-laden solution to a system of collection pipes leading to lined ponds before it is pumped to a processing plant. Dissolved gold is recovered at the adsorption, desorption and regeneration (ADR) plant using activated carbon and further refined into gold doré.
How does Eldorado responsibly manage its heap leach facilities?
At Kışladağ, Eldorado currently operates the South Heap Leach Pad and is constructing an additional North Heap Leach Pad. Responsible water management is a top priority in the design and operation of our heap leach facilities. The mine is bounded by a series of collection ditches that divert non-contact water around the site, while all contact water with the site, including the heap leach facilities, is collected in ponds for treatment and use. All ponds, including those containing cyanide solution, are lined with double high-density polyethylene membranes and fitted with leak detection pipes and pumps. All ponds are designed to withstand, at minimum, a 100-year, 24-hour storm event. Ponds are covered with floating high-density polyethylene balls to reduce evaporation and to inhibit wildlife contact with the cyanide solution. Continuous treatment of contact water and recirculation of process solution mean that Kışladağ recycles most of the water it withdraws.
In addition to the heap leach facility process ponds, there are several additional ponds available, including a dedicated storm water event pond to contain excess overflow solution and a second to manage a storm water event that exceeds the one-in-100 year condition. Facilities are designed to keep water and solution in a closed circuit. An emergency hydrogen peroxide detoxification circuit is in place to reduce the cyanide concentration of solution that may be discharged under extreme circumstances.
There are no permanent water bodies in the area surrounding the mine, and water supply for other users is limited. As water is limited in the region, local communities are supplied with potable water from sources several kilometres away from the mine site. Eldorado supported the construction of potable water infrastructure in the region and continues to support the maintenance of this infrastructure as discussed in the Community Investment section of this report.
Once ore leaves the crushing plant at Kışladağ, it travels over kilometres of electric conveyors to the heap leach pad, mitigating significant quantities of GHG emissions that would result from truck haulage as an alternative transport method. Opportunities in support of our Climate Change Strategy and GHG emissions mitigation target are under investigation for the heap leach facilities, including energy efficiency measures for the conveyor system and the process solution pumping circuit.
Kışladağ has maintained an environmental management plan since before it entered production that includes an extensive monitoring program for elements such as surface water and groundwater, flora and fauna, waste and hazardous waste storage, as well as social factors. As the mine progresses toward its end of life, we will seek to develop reclamation and closure plans in alignment with the SIMS Closure Planning standards, which include the MAC-TSM Mine Closure Framework and the WGC’s RGMPs.
Eldorado is committed to living its values of courage to face innovation challenges head on and having the drive to deliver on our environmental promises. Over the last several years, our team at Lamaque has been working to convert its entire fleet of mobile mining equipment from the use of petroleum lubricants to a canola-based biodegradable oil In 2022, we expanded this initiative to include our contractors.
The use of heavy mechanical equipment at the surface and underground typically carries with it inherent environmental risks resulting from potential petroleum oil spills that require quick cleanup and remediation in order to protect soils, as well as surface water and groundwater. The vegetable oil Lamaque now uses is biodegradable, meaning that the potential impacts to soils or water are significantly lower and the elimination of hydrocarbon contamination results in simpler waste management and spill response. Soils impacted by the biodegradable oil can be treated simply and passively through natural degradation in purpose-built areas on-site and given a second life through reuse in other on-site activities.
The project was a significant undertaking, involving collaboration between a number of departments, including operators and mechanics, as well as hours of research and development with supply chain partners, to convert nearly one hundred units of heavy equipment without compromise on performance. In recognition of the team’s hard work, innovative spirit and commitment to environmental excellence demonstrated through the project, Eldorado Gold Québec was the proud recipient of a Distinction Award from the Québec Mining Association. More information about the project’s continuing successes can be found here.
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-III, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).