Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:GOLD)(TSX:ABX) is committed to being a good neighbour, a responsible corporate citizen and a conscientious caretaker of the environment.
We believe these traits are the very foundation on which to build a modern mining company and are as important as geotechnical expertise and free cash flow, president and chief executive Mark Bristow says in the company’s 2020 Sustainability Report.
Bristow said Barrick’s approach to climate risk was led by site-specific strategies based on science and operational realities, rather than hopeful aspirations, and it was constantly reviewed in the light of technological advances.
Identification and realization of the opportunities these offered enabled the company to update its 2030 emissions reduction target from 10% to 30% against its 2018 baseline. Barrick’s ultimate aim is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
In 2020, Barrick’s environmental strategy paid real dividends, from improved water management in Tanzania to innovative rehabilitation plans in North America. At the group level, Barrick recorded zero Class 1 environmental incidents for the third consecutive year, reduced Class 2 incidents by 38% year-on-year and exceeded its target of reusing or recycling at least 75% of its water.
“Our current roadmap includes energy efficiency measures across the group and ambitious plans for more solar power in Mali and Nevada, and the conversion of a power station in Nevada from coal to natural gas. It also details our achievements to date with new battery technology installed to augment our hydropower stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the conversion of our power station in the Dominican Republic from heavy fuel oil to cleaner energy sources,” he said.
Bristow says, with the Covid-19 pandemic driving more people below the poverty line, Barrick is maximizing the social and economic benefits its mines inject into their host countries and communities. In 2020, the company established community-led development committees at all its operational sites. These committees currently oversee an investment of more than $26 million in projects ranging from digital education programs in Nevada to water treatment initiatives in Argentina to the ongoing funding of the Paiam hospital in Papua New Guinea.
Barrick’s prompt and effective response to Covid-19 largely protected its business and people from the impact of the virus – the mines in Nevada as well as the Africa and Middle East region did not lose a single shift to the pandemic – and it also provided a further opportunity for the company to demonstrate its commitment to partnerships. Barrick spent more than $30 million on Covid-19-related community support measures in 2020 and has prepaid more than $300 million to date in taxes and royalties to ease the pandemic’s economic pressure on some host countries.
The company’s 2019 Sustainability Report was the first in the industry to publish a detailed ESG scorecard, based on key metrics and rating Barrick against its peers. The scorecard, says group sustainability executive Grant Beringer, provides the market with a transparent overview of the company’s performance and also drives improvement at site level.
“In 2020, there was a marked improvement against most metrics and we improved our overall score. The fact that we still gave ourselves a B grade shows we realize that we still have some way to go and that there is no room for complacency. In keeping with our target of continued improvement, this year’s scorecard includes additional metrics which will be used to assess our 2021 performance,” he said.
Barrick’s 2020 Sustainability Report is available here.