Waste Management and TSF
Mining wastes have the potential to cause environmental impacts. Nordgold has established robust environmental management systems at each of its sites to monitor and prevent any adverse impacts to people or the environment
Waste generation is an unavoidable part of the mining process. When disposing of waste, we either organise environmentally safe decontamination and disposal, or securely transfer it to specialised partner companies for processing and recycling.
Nordgold’s most significant waste category in terms of volume is rock. This includes mined, overburden, and empty rocks, as well as ore waste after gold extraction. Treated ore is earmarked for disposal at tailing storage facilities (TSF) or waste dams (if the heap leaching process is used).
Waste recycling and reuse
Nordgold is continually improving its processes, implementing new technologies, and exploring recycle and reuse opportunities, with a view to minimising waste.
Nordgold uses rocks in road construction and in the backfilling of cavities in mines. Other waste such as used mercury vapour lamps, scrap metal, technical rubber products, and used batteries, are all transferred to third parties for recycling, while oil waste is reused locally.
We implement innovative technologies to facilitate the efficient use of natural resources. In June 2016, Suzdal became the second mine worldwide to launch an innovative, robust, and cost-efficient Outotec HiTeCC (Hot Leach) process to recover gold from both historical and CIL tailings.
Hazardous Substances Management
Nordgold’s operations demand the use of flammable, explosive, oxidizing, corrosive and poisonous substances. Carefully handling these hazardous materials are key considerations for a safe production process.
Nordgold’s approach to its management of hazardous substances is described in the Guidance on Handling Hazardous Materials handbook, which includes a cyanide application guide — this should be consulted when conducting operations that utilise this hazardous substance.
Nordgold’s mines use preventative measures when handling chemical products and we strive to replace hazardous chemicals with less noxious ones. We are also committed to training employees in the safe handling of all chemical products.
We strive to align our cyanide management with the requirements of the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMC). A cyanide solution is used in circulation schemes, as it is the most efficient method.
The main risk of dealing with cyanide occurs during its transportation. To mitigate this risk, the Group transports only dry cyanides, rather than cyanide solution. Cyanide is transported inside the original manufacturers’ packaging to ensure a higher level of safety.
At Nordgold’s mines, only highly trained personnel are permitted to handle cyanides.
All of the Group’s fuel and chemicals are stored and handled in compliance with relevant environmental legislation and industry best practices.
Management of tailings storage
Nordgold strives to achieve the ultimate goal of Zero harm to people and the environment at all its operating facilities. Therefore we pay special attention to tailings storage facility safety (TSF), and are in the process of developing a Group standard operating procedures for TSF and water storage facilities (WSF) management system. It is aligned with the best industry practices and the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management and aim to ensure that the various Nordgold tailings and water storage facilities, located in different geographical locations and operating under different regulatory requirements, all adhere to common standards, which are based on best available global practices.
It is recognised that each facility is as unique as the environment and setting in which they are located and as such, that there is no single design or operating technique that can be adopted universally. The standard operating procedures therefore represents the minimum set of standards that the Nordgold operations should comply with in the design, construction, management and closure of tailings and water storage facilities.
Detailed requirements for all elements of the facility lifecycle are covered in each mine tailings and water storage facilities management system, and mine/facility-specific operations, maintenance and surveillance (OMS) manuals.
The standard operating procedures aims are to:
- Present a fundamental set of globally applicable principles, standards, objectives and performance criteria with which each facility should comply;
- Provide performance criteria for all facility components that should be assessed and measured, and
- Encourage continuous improvements, as progressive advancements are envisaged to enhance long-term safety and environmental performances. The standard operating procedures therefore promote the adoption of new and improved ways to achieve the stated objectives.
Fundamental objectives are that:
- All facilities must be safe, and free standing waste or water storage facilities;
- Public and employee health and safety must not be threatened by or placed at risk by any facility, and
- Facilities must result in an acceptable environmental impact without unnecessarily jeopardising future environmental resources.
The condition of TSF, and the quality of surface and underground water, are regularly monitored by the mine’s metallurgy teams. All facilities are inspected daily by designated employees onsite and their observations are recorded daily in the TSF logbook. The residual cyanide content in wastewater/ sludge is monitored through daily sampling.
Territories adjacent to tailing dumps are constantly monitored.
TSF are independently audited by the Engineers of Record (EOR) and 3rd party independent auditors, who produce a report containing their findings and recommendations.
The Group operates TSF at the following mines:
In 2021, Lefa launched a trail TSF satellite monitoring programme. Lefa’s new monitoring system uses satellite imagery processing algorithms to track the condition of the mine’s tailings storage facilities, in order to proactively identify potential risks.
TSF designs are aimed at minimising environmental risks and impacts, by using best practices to reduce the risk of seepage or uncontrolled outflows.
Nordgold seeks to introduce technologies that increase water recycling and reuse. At the Berezitovy mine, tailings are filtered, while at Suzdal we have introduced ASTER™ technology to treat cyanide tailings water for reuse in the flotation section. This technology provides a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible alternative to the conventional cyanide destruction process and increases water reuse.