Water is vital to life as well as to our mining operations. We recognize that our licence to operate depends upon our ability to demonstrate our ongoing responsible stewardship of this precious resource. For this reason, we have established high standards for performance and reporting at our sites and are committed to being a leader in responsible water management.
Kinross’ Water Management Standard underscores our commitment. It requires that potential impacts of our activities on water resources be carefully analyzed and considered during project planning and throughout the mine life cycle. Reviewed and strengthened in 2011, the Water Management Standard requires that controls include management plans, comprehensive and current water balance models, and ongoing surface and groundwater monitoring programs. Properly designed and implemented, these controls aim to ensure that water quality and supply are protected and that site discharges, if required, are controlled and meet all regulatory requirements. A set of water conservation practices are maintained for consideration by new and existing operations. Water quality objectives are established by individual operations and projects, guided by our corporate policy and standards.
Recognizing that potential water impacts by mining operations are a concern for surrounding communities and other stakeholders, Kinross reaches out early to communities and stakeholders to establish an ongoing dialogue regarding potential impacts and management requirements. Through this ongoing engagement, Kinross aims to demonstrate its commitment to manage water use and ensure that impacts on water quality and supply are not significant.
Kinross’ total water withdrawal has increased due to increased production. Compared with 2010, our water withdrawal increased from 42.3 million cubic metres to 56.0 million cubic metres, an increase of 33%. Incorporation of Tasiast and Chirano accounts for 5.8 million cubic metres, or 42% of the increase. The remainder of the increase was at Paracatu, where in November 2010 the Eustaquio dam was completed and began filling, increasing the amount of precipitation collected at Paracatu by 8.7 million cubic metres.
This increased collection of precipitation at Paracatu due to filling of the Eustaquio dam resulted in a slight (3%) increase in our intensity of water use to 351 litres per tonne, compared with the three-year rolling average of 342 litres per tonne.
Kinross is focused on managing our water footprint, the water captured on our mining operations from precipitation or ground water plus water brought to our operations from outside. Water recycling plays an important part in our efforts. During 2011 our water recycling rate, calculated against our total water footprint which we call ‘water withdrawal’, was 321%, down from 424% in 2010. This downward trend reflects the addition of Tasiast and Chirano, as well as the storage of additional water in the Eustaquio tailings dam at Paracatu. When improved water management practices are implemented at both of these sites, we expect our recycle rate to return to historic levels.