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Environment

As with all mining companies, our work involves a number of environmental risks. Our Environmental Policy is designed to overcome environment-related risks from the beginning of a project until long after its completion. Our Environmental Policy concentrates on continuous improvement, risk education, the use of best practice, and compliance. It also covers the management of key environmental issues, including incident and emergency control and the use of environmentally friendly materials.

For this we have developed our Group-wide Environmental Management System (EMS), which facilitates resource and energy efficiency across the entire Polymetal business.

We have tasked our in-house engineering company, Polymetal Engineering, with insuring that all environmental concerns are taken into account and properly addressed during the design, construction and operation of our mines and processing facilities and the effects thereof after their closure. We are engaged in multifaceted measures to both mitigate environmental risks and, when possible, to improve the environment around us.

Who is responsible

Who is responsible
Energy management and climate change

One of Polymetal’s top priorities is to increase energy efficiency at our production sites. In order to do this, we work according to an action plan, which we annually update to reduce energy consumption, ensure efficient use of energy resources and implement new energy-efficient equipment and technologies.

Corporate goals are part of our Environmental Management System (EMS) and Energy Management System and are met at operations by annual action planning. For this reason, we have set the goal to decrease GHG emission intensity by at least 1% by 2020 compared to 2016, as well as to generate at least 1 MW of renewable energy.

In order to achieve our energy efficiency targets, we regularly monitor our power supply and consumption throughout the entire business. Additionally, we conduct regular energy efficiency audits and appoint external agencies to thoroughly inspect our operations and resolve any potential power supply issues. As a result, in the past years we have remodeled and updated our main power infrastructure and have begun to install new equipment to improve our operational efficiency.

In 2018, we have implemented two new energy projects: a solar power plant at our Svetloye field and a wind warm at the seaport of Unchi. These projects have already begun to show positive results. In 2018, we reduced GHG emissions intensity across the company by 7%.

Air quality

As is unavoidable with all mining projects, our core activities generate air emissions, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen, Sulphur oxides, and inorganic dust, which is the primary type of emissions pollutant produced throughout our activities.

In order to minimize future emissions, in 2017 we set a corporate-wide goal to decrease Sulphur dioxide emissions by at least 1% in 2020 compared to 2016. Corporate goals such as this are an integral part of our Environmental Management System (EMS) and Energy Management System and are met at operations by annual action planning.

Operations with targeted programs for 2018-2019

GHG emissions reduction Renewable energy use Air emissions reduction
Svetloye O O O
Amursk O X O
Albazino O O O
Okhotsk hub X X X
Mayskoe O X X
Dukat hub X X X
Omolon hub O X O
Voro O X X
Komar O X X
Varvara O O X
Kyzyl O X X
Kapan O X X

We are particularly proud of recent results produced by our programs that are aimed at Green House Gasses (GHG) and air emissions reduction. These include, among others, the construction of a solar plant and its integration with a diesel generator, the installation of a wind farm, and the installation of a hybrid wind and solar power generator in order to provide better lighting in our facilities. Additionally, we have undertaken the installation of additional plates of a heat exchanger in order to update the heat recovery system, installed a dust filter for ventilating the mill unit, and upgraded the gas and dust catching facilities with hydro-cyanite removal. We are continually renovating and updating our facilities in order to reduce future pollutant emissions throughout our activities.

Water

We set our corporate goal to reduce water withdrawal and water discharge by at least 1% by 2020, compared to 2016, through rational water use programs.

In accordance with our corporate standard on the identification and reduction of environmental risks, we assess all environmental aspects annually and focus on water as one of the key areas of importance and vulnerability.

Environmental aspects are managed by the company and targets are set within our environmental program, both company-wide and at each operational site. We monitor our performance and conduct internal audits and comprehensive checks which reveal potential violations and risks. In order to address potential and emerging risks, we investigate risks and develop reports and mitigation plans of corrective measures. More complex corrective measures are made part of our environmental program, within which we are better equipped to comprehensively address the problem.

As part of our environmental compliance and efficiency assessment standard, we count water withdrawal and discharge and report on a quarterly basis. We measure water consumption for drinking and technology, fresh water from underground and surface sources, and recycled and discharged water. We also take into account effluents sent to bodies of water, ponds, collectors, tailing dams and sewage and regions that are especially vulnerable to the exploitation of water resources. We do not withdrawal surface waters in environmentally sensitive areas, but rather we use water that naturally seeps down and collects in our underground mines.

We are especially proud of our recently implemented programs for water management. In recent years we have constructed mine water treatment facilities, updated our water supply system, which better facilitates the replacement of fresh water with mine water throughout processing, and have included 40,000 m3 of storm waters from a collecting pond. On average, approximately 83% of our water is recycled and reused.

Waste reuse Water management
Svetloye O X
Amursk X O
Albazino O X
Okhotsk hub O X
Mayskoe O O
Dukat hub O X
Omolon hub O O
Voro O O
Komar O X
Varvara O X
Kyzyl O X
Kapan O O

We are especially proud of our following programs for water management:

  • Construction of mine water treatment facilities
  • Update of water supply system which allows to replace fresh water with mine water in processing
  • Inclusion of 40,000 m3 of storm waters from collecting pond in processing
Waste

Waste is an inherent biproduct of the entire mining industry, resulting in significant quantities of mineral waste. Therefore, waste management has become a fundamental part of our environmental program. We continuously strive to implement new waste management technologies and solutions. We have implemented stringent waste management standards at all of Polymetal’s operations and facilities, covering waste ore and tailings.

We set our corporate goal to re-use at least 20% of total overburden waste annually by 2020.

To achieve this target, we have developed unique strategies for the alternative usage of overburden and waste rock, such as for backfill in developed champers, for the construction and maintenance of roads, for construction sites preparation as well as for the reinforcement and construction of tailing dams. As a result of these activities, we were able to reuse 27% of our waste in 2018.

Polymetal operates tailings storage facilities (TSF) at the operating mine sites in Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as dry stack facilities.

Biodiversity

We are committed to treading lightly in the regions where we operate and work hard to minimise our impact on local biodiversity. To this end, as a matter of policy we do not operate in or adjacent to protected or vulnerable areas. We respect, and will not encroach upon, land that has particular value — natural, historical or cultural — for Indigenous Minorities of the North (IMN). We also engage in comprehensive land rehabilitation once we have finished working in a particular area, focusing on the reparation of any environmental damage that our operations may have caused.

Stakeholder engagement in biodiversity conservation

To increase efficiency of our Environmental Management Program on biodiversity and to identify threats to biodiversity loss, at all stages of mine life, we cooperate, exchange knowledge and experience with local, national and international scientific and expert centers, local communities, state authorities in the regions where we operate. We commit to transparency and open communication while complying with applicable legal requirements.

Responsibility on biodiversity conservation lays primarily on environmental teams, operations management, relevant managers, and on the Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors. Additionally, our communication teams are training and involving our employees and local communities in environmental and biodiversity awareness programs. See more here

Under the legal requirements of countries where Polymetal operates, we are not allowed to mine or produce metals in areas with the highest biodiversity value. Our operations are regularly monitored by state authorities responsible among others for biodiversity conservation and if they detect any negative impact on biodiversity, we will develop measures together with authorities to mitigate these impacts and achieve no net loss.

In recent years we have implemented a series of measures to both mitigate the impact of our operations local biodiversity as well as to commit to lasting environmental benefits in the regions in which we work. We have successfully initiated environmentally friendly programs to prevent wildlife such as deer and birds from coming into contact with waste and our pits and have begun to rejuvenate the flora and fauna in the areas which we work, such as through herb planting programs and the release of some 12,000 pink salmon into the Arman river as part of our Environmental Program.

Planning for mine closures

Though less the case in underground mining, mining and the effects thereof nevertheless have an impact on the environment around our mines. This is caused by infrastructure such as storage, waste, tailings and roads. It is our priority to work with state bodies, local communities and our employees to mitigate the long-lasting effects of our operations after the closure of our mines.

Our long-term remediation obligations include fulfilling decommissioning and restoration liabilities and covering suspension or abandonment costs in compliance with national regulations and legislation. The Company covers these costs. We carry out geological, surveying and repair works to ensure that once a mine is suspended or abandoned, underground operations, drilling sites and buildings are not hazardous or dangerous. Additionally, we carry out necessary environmental rehabilitation.

Polymetal aims to minimize negative impacts on the environment and stakeholders by ensuring the safety and stability of sites and facilities after closure and ensures that they are left in a condition which is compatible with subsequent land uses for local communities in regions of our operation without threat to human health. In doing this, Polymetal adheres to a list of key principles in the course of mine closure:

  • To disseminate effective and comprehensive closure planning practices for the Company
  • To encourage employees, management and partners to demonstrate leadership
  • To ensure that closure planning reflects legal and regulatory requirements
  • To apply state-of-the-art technologies for the mine closure
  • To ensure that adequate resources are available for the closure process
  • During the operation stage, to rehabilitate as much land as possible prior to closure and to decrease the level of landscape alteration (use pit for waste rock and tailings storage, backfilling and use of waste rock for construction)
  • To consider the concerns of stakeholders (local communities, governments, employees and landowners) in closure plans
  • To conduct post-closure monitoring until the responsibilities are transferred to a third party

Polymetal takes responsibility for compliance with the requirements of applicable laws and strives to meet stakeholders’ expectations when closing a mine. For these reasons, our priorities of effective mine closure include:

  • To provide timely and effective closure planning and implementation of related measures
  • To reduce financial, social and environmental risks when the operation closes and optimize social, economic and cultural opportunities for the host community
  • To ensure the safety and stability of structures and facilities during and after the closure and for further and subsequent use
  • To ensure that adequate financial resources are available to meet the full cost of closure
  • To ensure that business is conducted in a socially responsible way and that obligations towards the dismissed personnel are met

We aspire to a comprehensive approach to mine closure in cooperation with the relevant bodies, stakeholders, our employees and contractors, and local communities in order to effectively mitigate long-lasting environmental effects, while taking continued responsibility for the mine, the environment and our employees after closure.

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment

In 2016, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Wardell-Armstrong (WAI) completed a detailed review of the social and environmental issues linked to our Kyzyl gold project in north-eastern Kazakhstan.

Based on this review, a formal Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) has been produced by WAI for meeting environmental and social requirements of the EBRD, which is considering the opportunity to finance the project.

The ESIA is a comprehensive analysis of any risks and opportunities linked to all key areas of the Kyzyl project, including its environmental, socio-economic and cultural effects.

Polymetal has also agreed with the EBRD on the Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP), which includes a series of actions that Polymetal will implement in order to avoid, reduce, control, or otherwise mitigate potential environmental, occupational health and safety and social impacts during Kyzyl construction and operation.

ESIA summary