Case Study 10 (Spanish):
THE ISSUE: Mining has the potential to impact ecosystems and biological resources. How can mining companies work in partnership with host governments and other stakeholders to ensure they provide adequate protection for biological resources, particularly when they are conducting their operations in or adjacent to environmentally sensitive or protected areas, or in remote regions containing previously undisturbed ecosystems?
The Kinross Way
Kinross is committed to protecting the ecosystems in which we operate. This begins with respect for legally protected and internationally recognized conservation areas; however, even where there are no protected areas, we conduct extensive baseline studies and, where important biological resources are identified, we design mine facilities to avoid or minimize potential impacts. Where impacts are unavoidable, management plans are developed to mitigate or offset impacts. Kinross also aims to create a positive footprint by engaging in partnerships with research and educational institutions, where appropriate, to increase the overall knowledge and understanding of regional ecosystems, and ultimately, to create a positive legacy through sustainable biological resource improvements.
As an example, our Lobo-Marte project is located in the mountainous Atacama Desert, roughly midway between Kinross’ Maricunga and La Coipa mines. Lobo-Marte operated as an open pit/heap leach between 1988 and 1992, and was acquired by Kinross in 2008. The mine is located between the northern and southern zones of the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park, and in 2009 the Chilean government incorporated the valleys connecting these two zones of the Park (including parts of the Lobo-Marte project area) into an existing Ramsar Site. 1
As Kinross began feasibility studies to re-develop the project, we found that, despite being located near these protected areas, there was very little field data and ecological information available for the area. As a result, the baseline studies conducted by Kinross since 2009 have greatly increased the body of knowledge on the ecology of the area. Working in partnership with biodiversity experts and other stakeholders, Kinross completed detailed inventories of the biological communities in the area. Studies included detailed mapping of the wetlands, extensive studies of the hydrologic systems feeding the wetlands, and inventories of the flora and fauna. Studies of camelid movement were performed using GPS tracking collars. Our investigations identified the following sensitive species: the horned coot; three species of flamingos, including one that uses one of the lagoons in the nearby National Park for nesting; two camelid species (vicuñas and guanacos) that graze within and around the protected Ramsar Sites; viscachas, short-tailed chinchillas; and the liolaemus rosenmanii lizard.
In addition to improving the understanding of the population density and range of these sensitive species, these studies informed our assessment of how Kinross activities can be designed to have minimal impact. For example, our investigations identified the movement patterns of vicuñas and guanacos. To minimize potential effects on these species, our proposed project designs have avoided the placement of permanent structures in zones of concentrated movement. We conducted extensive hydrologic investigations to improve our understanding of the sensitive wetland systems and designed the proposed site layout to avoid impacts to wetlands. To protect the long-term sustainability of the wetlands that are protected as part of the Ramsar Site, a biodiversity action plan (BAP) is being developed in partnership with Chile’s National Forestry Service (CONAF) and other stakeholders to provide the necessary protection for these valuable resources.
1 The “Ramsar Convention” is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the “wise use”, or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.