This is the third in a four-part series on biodiversity management at Newmont.
In 2017 and 2018, global conservation experts helped us evaluate in-country options for offsetting biodiversity impacts at our Merian mine in Suriname. This collaboration informed Newmont’s restoration pilot project of ~12.5 hectares to support future restoration of more than 2,000 hectares, including construction of an on-site nursery to support native plant propagation. Progressive restoration projects like this are critical to effective biodiversity management and, as Briana Gunn explains, “demonstrate our clear commitment to long-term environmental stability and a positive legacy for future generations.”
“Progressive restoration projects like this demonstrate our clear commitment to long-term environmental stability and a positive legacy for future generations.”
–Briana Gunn, Environmental Director
Briana Gunn is Newmont’s Environmental Director and spends a great deal of time working with operational teams and external experts to determine site-specific biodiversity goals, targets, timeframes and mitigation measures. “Many times, the impact of our activities cannot be completely avoided,” she says. “That’s where restoration and offsets come in.” Using the Mitigation Hierarchy, a widely accepted best practice approach to biodiversity conservation, we aim to return areas to beneficial use and assist in the recovery of any key biodiversity values (KBVs) that have been degraded, damaged or destroyed.
Newmont’s restoration and rehabilitation work often involves mitigation of impacts not associated with our own projects. Such is the case in Suriname, where the best path for biodiversity conservation was restoration of off-site areas impacted by artisanal small-scale mining (ASM). Going forward, we will monitor the success of this initiative based on improvements in vegetation fragmentation, species richness, percentage of ground and canopy cover, stream water quality, structure and connectivity, as well as habitat features.
Similar efforts are underway in Australia, where we are offsetting residual impacts of Newmont Boddington Gold’s (NBG) Life of Mine Extension project. In 2012, NBG submitted a proposal to expand operations to nearly double its current footprint, impacting roughly 1,750 hectares of northern Jarrah forest. To offset this loss, NBG has committed to restore 470 hectares of vacant farmland back to forest, establish a Conservation Covenant of over 2,000 hectares of Jarrah forest and swap 618 hectares of Newmont-held forest for affected state forest – among other commitments.
“The timeline for offsets is long,” Briana points out. “But as with any investment we make, we’re committed to seeing positive returns.”