Reducing the amount of water we use, while protecting water quality, enhances our environmental performance and helps us maintain community and stakeholder support
Water is both one of the main resources required for mining and an important consideration in environmental protection. It is vital for our operations and is widely used in ore processing, dust suppression, and rock drilling activities.
Water availability is thoroughly reviewed for all new projects, in terms of both access and environmental protection. All current Nordgold operations have negative water balances which eliminate the requirement to discharge processed water into natural water bodies. Instead, we actively maximise recycle water from our tailings facilities back into our gold processing plants.
The use of water is closely monitored at all operations against environmental performance KPIs, which are tracked for each mine. Intake water is used for dust suppression and domestic use, as well as to compensate for evaporated water.
The sources of water intake for Nordgold’s mines are underground wells, as well as surface water, including reservoirs.
All our mines use recycled water for technological processes, which circulates repeatedly in a closed system. Recirculation allows us to reduce withdrawal volumes of fresh water, prevent its pollution, and reduce the consumption of chemical reagents.
Water Reuse/ Recycling Efficiency *
- Water recycled — Water used in operations, treated and then reused.
- Water reused — Water used in operations and reused without treatment.
* Calculated as total recycled/reused water divided by sum of fresh water withdrawal for technological processes and total recycled/reused water.
In 2020, we achieved a 92% water reuse/ recycling efficiency at our operations in Russia and Kazakhstan, and 78% for the African countries in which we operate.
The difference between Nordgold’s performance in Russia and Kazakhstan and in Africa can be explained by dust suppression, high evaporation rates, and the different technology used. West Africa predominantly uses CIL operations (64% of ore processed); all CIL tailings retain up to 30% more moisture, while the tailings storage facility (TSF) is active and generally has a higher evaporation rate from surface water. Climate also plays a part given African summers are much longer than the comparatively short Russian summer season (especially in Siberia).
In 2020, our water intensity per dollar revenue was 0.006 (m3/US$), which represents an uninterrupted 33% decline since 2018.
According to the World Resource Institute, the only high-risk water-stressed country where Nordgold has operations is Burkina Faso. To address this, our Bissa and Bouly mines built the Tiben water reservoir, which serves our and the needs of local communities and ensures a sustainable water supply.
Drought In Burkina Faso: Our Response
“Climate change”, a phrase that has almost become a media cliché, sounds quite differently where its sad consequences are clear for everyone to see: just south of the great Sahara desert.
Africa is drying up. And Burkina Faso is one of those countries where the Sahara hot breath is felt most.
We use a circulation water system at all our mines to process water, and do not discharge processed water into natural water bodies.
We seek opportunities to reduce the disposal of domestic wastewater. All discharged water is processed by local treatment facilities before being disposed of.
Certified laboratories monitor water quality and effluent water treatment efficiency to ensure that impacts remain within acceptable limits. All mines are also equipped with observation wells to assess the potential impact of production facilities on groundwater. Monitoring is carried out on a regular basis. In addition to domestic wastewater, mines generate pit and mine water. Nordgold is continually making efforts to improve the quality of its water discharges, and looking for possibilities to involve pit and mine water into circulating water systems.