Our Environment

Minimizing our environmental impact

Equinox Gold is committed to implementing best practices in responsible mining. Operating responsibly requires the commitment of all team members, from the Board of Directors to the site workforce to the camp manager who implements a recycling program. Every person has a role in minimizing our environmental impact.

Our Commitment

key documents & data

Ross Beaty’s outstanding commitment to environmentalism in the mining industry was recognized by Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia in 2021 when he was awarded the C.J. Westerman Memorial Award. You can learn more about Ross Beaty’s commitment to environmental protection here.

Protecting natural resources & MINIMIZING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT

As part of the planning process to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources and raw materials, we identify risks and develop management strategies to prevent and mitigate environmental impacts. We consider full life-of-mine risks and opportunities, carefully planning every stage of development from exploration through to construction, operations and finally closure, always seeking to minimize our environmental footprint and protect natural resources.

At all operations, we have established environmental management systems that conform with ISO14001, and aim at protecting the long-term health and viability of the natural environments surrounding or affected by our activities by:

  • Promoting the reduction in usage of raw materials as well as the reuse or recycling of waste streams
  • Aiming to prevent and mitigate impacts to biodiversity through research, partnerships, and land management processes
  • Fostering and maintaining a culture of environmental responsibility within the workplace
  • Performing progressive reclamation activities during the life of mine, and regularly update closure plans to take into consideration the interests of host communities
  • Reporting, investigating and remediating all environmental incidents
  • Resourcing our site teams so they are equipped to manage any conceivable emergency
  • Ensuring the safe and responsible management and storage of tailings during the life of operations and after mine closure

PARTNERING WITH LOCAL GROUPS

Equinox Gold’s commitment to environmental sustainability includes partnering with local groups to provide favourable environmental outcomes as well as opportunities for education and training. For example, at Castle Mountain, we have collaborated with the California Bighorn Sheep Preservation Society to install watering points that are used to keep our local population of bighorn sheep healthy and thriving. Read more about the Castle Mountain initiatives here. 

2020 PERFORMANCE

A summary of Equinox Gold’s management approach to ESG issues, progress during 2020 and next steps for 2021 can be found in our Responsible Mining: Commitments & Performance document. More detailed information about Equinox Gold’s environmental performance during 2020 can be viewed here.

For 2021, Equinox Gold has set the target of achieving a Significant Environmental Incidents Frequency rate of 1.6 or less.

Minimizing our environmental footprint

Planning for the future
Reviewing the potential to use thickened or filter and dry stack of tailings at various sites

Tailings Management

Equinox Gold adheres to all local and federal regulations and to best practice international standards to ensure our waste and tailings are safely managed. Monitoring and warning systems are installed at our tailings facilities and they are monitored, inspected and audited routinely by trained personnel, independent experts and local regulators.

In 2019, the Company formed an Independent Tailings Review Board of independent technical experts with the mandate to further review the design, construction and management practices for the Aurizona tailings storage facility. Our other tailings facilities in Brazil are reviewed by independent engineers. Equinox Gold prepared a document in 2020 that outlines the tailings dam management process at our mine sites.

Implementing opportunities for water conservation

WATER & CYANIDE MANAGEMENT

Equinox Gold’s water management strategy is focused on protecting the quality of local water resources and minimizing the amount of water used to maintain operations. We strive to both reduce our water use and to recycle water where possible. Our sites comply with all required effluent discharge and prescribed water quality standards, although most of our sites are zero-discharge.

Equinox Gold is a signatory to the International Cyanide Management Code, which commits the Company to applying leading practices in the transport and safe use of cyanide and also to implementing programs to monitor for cyanide in both surface water and groundwater at all of its sites.

Reviewing opportunities to implement green power sources or carbon offset programs at mine sites

ENERGY & GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Equinox Gold understands its responsibility to contribute positively in the global fight against climate change. For the company to have the greatest impact, it is imperative that we become as energy efficient as possible and seek low-carbon or renewable energy alternatives at our operations. The company uses a systematic approach to identify the main sources of energy use, set greenhouse emissions targets and review and report on progress. Awareness at both site and corporate is a critical component of our approach.

Since 2020, the Company has been taking steps toward establishing a Climate Change Strategy. The Company held an Energy and Greenhouse Management Assessment Workshop involving senior management and site representatives, the outcomes of which have formed the basis of a strategic plan to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. Equinox Gold is committed to disclosing its GHG emissions and energy use according to the recommendations of Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and has completed the 2021 Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) questionnaire.  

In 2021 we performed an Energy Management Assessment, formed an Energy and GHG Management Committee with the Country Vice Presidents to support actions identified, and secured external consultants to perform Physical and Transition Risk Assessments including:

  • Physical Risks: risks associated with the physical location of the sites which may be acute (flood, fire or storm) or chronic (sea level rise or droughts);
  • Transition Risks: risks posed by policy and regulation changes in country as a response to Climate Change. Includes technology, market and reputational risk; and
  • Opportunities: for reducing operating costs, revenues from improving resource efficiency or energy sources.

We are also working on establishing short-term GHG Targets, have collected baseline data and have established an internal reporting platform.

Progressive reclamation and closure plans to return ecosystems as close as possible to their original state

BIODIVERSITY & MINE CLOSURE

Equinox Gold adheres to all local and federal regulations and additional voluntary standards to prevent or mitigate the impact of mining activities on habitat and species loss, and to promote conservation of local biodiversity. Special consideration is given to local threatened species and critical habitat. We are committed to progressive site remediation and our closure plans focus on agreed end land uses in consultation with local regulators and communities.

Equinox Gold is committed to protecting the long-term health and viability of the natural ecosystems that host our sites. As part of this commitment, our site teams aim to prevent or mitigate impacts to biodiversity through extensive pre-work research and carefully monitored land management processes. Biodiversity impact assessments are completed prior to land disturbance and any work on new projects and our local teams ensure that native fauna and significant floral elements are identified and rescued during clearing procedures. At all sites, indigenous vegetation is protected and nurseries are used to grow native species for restoration purposes. In Brazil, purchases land (between 20 to 80 percent of area under the Company’s control) and establishes nature reserves to protect natural ecosystems. This work is undertaken with the objective of documenting the biological wealth existing in any preserved areas and their importance and contribution to the maintenance of regional biodiversity, and minimizing the impact to local populations of important species.

Equinox Gold actively seeks partnerships with organizations focused on positive biodiversity outcomes. At the Company’s Castle Mountain Mine in California, for example, the Company has partnered with the Searchlight Township to transplant Joshua trees throughout the community, an initiative that protects the Joshua trees and also expands green spaces in the community.

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