New Gold is committed to responsible mining. As an organization, we strive to reach the highest standards in employee health and safety, environmental protection and community development and engagement, believing these to be key drivers to achieving a productive and profitable business.
Our policies and practices are guided by principles found in the United Nations Global Compact, of which we are signatories, and our operational standards are based on the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining Protocols.
Each year we set ambitious corporate responsibility objectives and I’m pleased to report that in 2018, through the unwavering commitment of our 1,344 employees, our contractors, and with the engagement and cooperation of our community partners, we met or exceeded these objectives.
2018 was a year of restructuring and renewal for New Gold. Our New Afton (British Columbia) mine produced 77,000 ounces of gold and 85 million pounds of copper, delivering another year of solid performance. We are committed to unlocking the significant potential of New Afton by launching a self-funded development program for the C-zone, which will extend mine life to 2030.
Late in 2017, we completed our first gold pour at our Rainy River (Ontario) mine. Throughout 2018, we focused on the completion of site construction, mill upgrades and operational improvements, and by year’s end, the mine had produced more than 227,000 ounces of gold. As with all of our assets, at this, our newest mine, we are operating with an exemplary commitment to safety and social responsibility.
At our Cerro San Pedro (Mexico) mine, we transitioned from residual leaching to reclamation phase in 2018, producing approximately 10,200 ounces of gold. As an economic bedrock in the community for decades, we have invested heavily in equipping the community and mine workers with the tools to transition to a sustainable post-mining economy. Through these efforts, I am proud to report that there are currently seven new businesses, operating financially independent of mine support.
Early in the year, we sold Peak Mines (Australia) to Aurelia Metals Limited and later in the year Equinox Gold Corp. acquired our Mesquite Mine (United States). We also made significant progress with the Blackwater (British Columbia) project and received positive provincial and federal environmental assessment decisions in the first half of 2019.
2018 Corporate Responsibility Achievements
While working hard to improve operations and optimize performance, our commitment and rigour with respect to sustainability practices did not waiver.
- Keeping our people safe is our top priority, a value that is firmly embedded in our corporate culture and requires a personal commitment at all levels of the organization. As a result, in 2018, we achieved a total reportable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) of 1.26, representing a significant improvement over 2017’s rate of 2.64. I’m pleased to report that in December, New Afton achieved a significant safety milestone reaching one million person hours without lost time injury. To learn more about our health and safety priorities and achievements, click here.
- Wherever we operate, in all stages of mining activity, from early exploration and planning to commercial mining operations to eventual closure, we are committed to excellence in environmental management. In 2018, there were 23 regulatory reportable incidents representing a 46% decrease from the 42 incidents in 2017. We also expanded our tailings facility capacity at both Canadian mine sites, increasing our transparency through the addition of a tailings fact sheet in this year’s Corporate Responsibility report. To learn more about our environmental priorities and achievements, click here.
- Our relationship with the host communities in which we operate and live is based on mutual benefit and active engagement in a way that contributes to sustainability. We measure ourselves by eight indicators outlined in the Towards Sustainable Mining Protocols and I’m pleased to report that in 2018, we achieved a triple-A rating for three indicators, a double-A for four indicators and an A for one indicator. This represents a significant improvement from 2017. Additionally, we were a proud sponsor and supporter of almost 70 community-based organizations that focus on the areas of arts and culture, health, environment, education and social services, contributing close to $1.2 million. To learn more about our community engagement priorities and achievements, click here.
Looking to 2019 and Beyond
We begin 2019 with a renewed vision for the future and a continued focus on driving responsible and profitable mining in a way that creates sustainable, enduring value for our shareholders, our stakeholders and the natural environment. Our goal is year-over-year improvement as we learn, adapt and improve our practices. We look forward to sharing the results with you in future reports.
On a final note, the achievements highlighted in this report would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of our employees, contractors, host communities and the local Indigenous and non-Indigenous community groups whose contribution and engagement ensure our continued success.
President & Chief Executive Officer