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We protect the environment through responsible stewardship, carefully managing our environmental footprint.

At Coeur, reducing our impact on the environment is a team effort. Consideration of both current and potential environmental challenges is an integral part of the mining life cycle. We aim to mitigate the environmental impact of our operations and have comprehensive environmental management programs to meet governmental standards and address risk management. We strive to develop responsibly, meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generations.

Understanding environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas and air emissions, energy consumption, waste generation, land disturbance, aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna diversity, water quality, and water usage, are a few of the factors we focus on from initial site design, through operations all the way to post-mine closure.

Extensive environmental assessments are conducted prior to the construction and expansion of Coeur’s mines. These assessments are essential for proper mine planning, operations and implementation of environmental controls for operation and closure. Comprehensive environmental management plans in conjunction with topic-specific plans at each site provide guidance on how to implement our environmental initiatives, meet regulatory standards and protect our environment throughout the lifecycle of the mine.

Each mining operation undergoes an extensive public permitting process and is subject to numerous Federal, State, and local regulatory programs. Coeur works closely with the regulatory authorities in mine planning, operations, and closure, and our mines hold the requisite permits and authorizations to operate. We also routinely engage with our communities and stakeholders through all phases of the mine life cycle.

Our operations and closure plans are developed from extensive mine designs that incorporate comprehensive baseline characterization studies and resource modeling utilize sound science and industry best practices for pollution prevention and resource impact minimization. Not only are these practices incorporated into design and operation, these practices along with robust environmental control measures, performance objectives, and engineering apply to closure and post-closure as well. Plans are also developed and executed for many aspects of an operation and for example focus on waste management and minimization, spill prevention, storm water pollution prevention, rock and water management, geotechnical and geochemical monitoring, air and water quality.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Coeur has proactively reduced its environmental footprint through minimizing energy consumption seeing a 63% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions per ton of ore processed from 2012 to 2017.

Starting with mine design, an emissions inventory is completed for each site to provide granular information and allow us to identify areas for efficiency improvements. For example, we can reduce our emissions by shortening the distance our haul trucks travel. This solution is known as a design control improvement.

Operational controls include a variety of strategies such as reducing fuel use, stack testing, updating emissions inventories, implementing source reduction, emissions monitoring and reporting. Point source emissions controls vary based on the emissions sources and related needs at each site. For a site project example, see the Palmarejo case below.

  • Average CO2e Emissions
  • Total CO2e Emissions
  • Energy Use Over Time
Average CO2e Emissions per Ton Mined, Milled or Placed (kilograms)

Graph notes:

  1. CO2e = carbon dioxide equivalent, based on fuels consumption
  2. Per ton of ore processed is a general term inclusive of tons milled, processed, or placed for leaching, etc.
  3. Wharf was acquired in February 2015; San Bartolome was sold in January 2018
  4. San Bartolome was sold in early 2018, and Silvertip was acquired in 2017, so data will be reported starting for 2018

 

Total CO2e Emissions based on fuels consumption over time

Graph notes:

  1. CO2e = carbon dioxide equivalent, based on fuels consumption
  2. Per ton of ore processed is a general term inclusive of tons milled, processed, or placed for leaching, etc.
  3. Wharf was acquired in February 2015; San Bartolome was sold in January 2018
  4. San Bartolome was sold in early 2018, and Silvertip was acquired in 2017, so data will be reported starting for 2018

 

Energy Use Over Time

Graph notes:

  1. CO2e = carbon dioxide equivalent, based on fuels consumption
  2. Per ton of ore processed is a general term inclusive of tons milled, processed, or placed for leaching, etc.
  3. Wharf was acquired in February 2015; San Bartolome was sold in January 2018
  4. San Bartolome was sold in early 2018, and Silvertip was acquired in 2017, so data will be reported starting for 2018

 

Variance in values are influenced by operational parameters such as changes to equipment fleet, hauling distances, and infrastructure. Operational efficiencies through infrastructure upgrades and continual optimization of process controls allow for greater and more efficient production.

Energy Use - Coeur's total energy use has increased over time, though as We Pursue a Higher Standard, we have continually produced more while using less energy, as can be seen in the decrease in energy per tons milled. Efficiencies have been realized as we scale up our production while striving to mine and process smarter and more efficiently using existing infrastructure.

 

In December 2017, Coeur Mexicana invested in solar power generation for its exploration office at the La Preciosa project. The exploration office is off the main power grid and previously relied on several small gas generators for power. In order to provide reliable and environmentally-friendly power to the office, Coeur installed 16 solar panels with a capacity of 325 watts of power generation and battery storage of up to 8,000 watts. Benefits of the project include emissions reduction and reduced costs in gas, maintenance and fuel transportation. The solar panels went online in January 2018.


Water Stewardship

Two of our five active mines are in water stressed regions (Palmarejo and Rochester), making water stewardship not only critical to our values but material to our business. We use water efficient processes to reduce use while also providing a net benefit where possible and have robust monitoring programs to protect existing water resources.

Coeur Project Map

From the initial design, our operations include controls to protect water resources. Extensive modeling influences decision-making around mine development, operations, closure and post-closure. Water conservation strategies include stormwater capture, water use reduction and reuse and leak detection inspection and monitoring. Depending on the site, dust control may be managed by using either recycled storm water or lignin sulfonate (an organic sap derivative). These are just a few of the many strategies included in water conservation plans and implemented each day onsite.

Beyond conserving water, Coeur has robust programs to monitor water quality and limit degradation of water resources. In addition to the water monitoring plans that monitor source quality, each site has storm water pollution prevention controls that are reviewed and periodically updated. Those plans include materials management practices to minimize potential pollutant exposure to storm water, engineered controls such stormwater collection ditches, sediment ponds, berms and culverts as well as administrative controls such as quarterly and post-event inspections. Stormwater capture can also provide a net benefit. The Wharf Mine, for example, uses stormwater capture to offset groundwater usage by 400%. See more below.

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Total Volume of Water Used in ac-ft (from ground and surface water) 3,253 3,080 4,268 3,334 2,893
Rochester 555 779 668 774 498
Kensington 33 14 17 30 30
Wharf 620 595 645 485 479
Palmarejo 2,046 1,692 919 593 606
San Bartolome --- --- 2,020 1,452 1,280
 
Total Volume of Water Treated in ac-ft 3,460 3,958 4,173 5,540 7,054
Rochester 3 2 3 2 4
Kensington 2,619 2,964 3,205 3,057 3,114
Wharf 810 964 856 1,384 2,007
Palmarejo 29 29 29 412 1,347
San Bartolome --- --- 80 685 582
 
Total Volume of Water Recycled in ac-ft 2,168 2,904 5,102 4,149 4,599
Rochester 787 1,263 1,214 1,215 959
Kensington 486 527 555 529 577
Wharf 446 527 316 107 68
Palmarejo 449 587 1,803 1,653 2,441
San Bartolome --- --- 1,215 646 554
 
Percentage of Water Treated vs Quantity Withdrawn* 106% 128% 98% 166% 244%
Percentage of Water Recycled vs Quantity Withdrawn 67% 94% 120% 124% 159%
*from Surface or Ground Resource

  • Rochester
  • Wharf
  • Silvertip
Coeur Rochester Water Reuse
Water Scarce Regions Map

Located in a water-scarce region in Nevada, the Rochester Mine is a zero-discharge mine site, meaning that all water onsite is recycled through a closed system and is reused year after year. Rochester has a robust water conservation plan that includes many water-saving strategies. It is a team effort, and all employees and contractors are trained on water conservation annually. Training topics include conservation procedures at the mine site and broader cultural topics around water conservation and how to conserve in the home. Examples of water conservation procedures onsite include daily inspections for leakages from water storage and conveyance structures and the use of lignin sulfonate (an organic sap derivative) for dust control.

Wharf Storm Water Management and Denitrification
Wharf Storm Water Management and Denitrification

Each year, Coeur Wharf collects approximately 127 million gallons of storm water that falls on the mine’s lined facilities. Every gallon of storm water and process water used in mine operations must be denitrified. Wharf has installed cutting-edge biological treatment systems that use bacteria in large tanks to breakdown contaminants. Wharf’s denitrification system handles and recirculates approximately 800 gallons of water a minute. That adds up to about one million gallons a day! This system was recognized with an award by the South Dakota Department of Environmental Natural Resources. This is a safe and ecological way to treat the water used onsite.

Silvertip Access Road Improvements Protect Water Resources
Silvertip Access Road Reclamation

In the summer of 2018, Silvertip made some much-needed improvements to its access road by through a repair and maintenance program, protecting water resources and providing benefits to both the community and the mine. The access road is considered a public roadway and accommodates not only mine traffic but also hunters from the public. The road was showing signs of wear, including erosion and water build-up in different areas.

Over the summer, Silvertip crews worked to properly install culverts and mitigate water runoff from the road. At the same time, they were able to widen the road and reduce hazards for drivers. The improvements are already making a big impact on the surrounding environment!


Air Quality

Air is a critical resource without geographical boundaries. In an effort to reduce our impact on the environment, we have comprehensive air quality management and monitoring programs in place to meet regulatory standards and address risk.

Air emission models are used to help design emission control strategies to reduce emissions, to predict downwind concentrations, and to evaluate mine operations with respect to National Ambient Air Quality Standards, all of which are cumulatively evaluated to understand environmental impact and mitigation strategies. Daily or other routine monitoring provides a comprehensive view of the emissions profile for proper environmental control, management, and response. At the source level, engineering controls are in place to reduce emissions. Strategies include but are not limited to:

  1. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems to reduce NOx emissions from generators
  2. State-of-the-art technology to control mercury emissions
  3. Maximum achievable control technologies
  4. Point source and fugitive dust emission controls
  5. Water sprayers and hoods to mitigate fugitive emission along conveyor systems
  6. Application of water and/or lignan sulfonate (i.e. organic sap derivative) to unpaved mine access surfaces

Waste Minimization

Coeur proactively works to reduce our environmental footprint by reducing waste and increasing the amount of recycling at each site. Comprehensive waste management plans govern onsite waste management including solid and hazardous waste management plans. Site materials are recycled and reused as feasible, including batteries, scrap metal, aluminum, tires and wood. One exciting example for 2019 is that the Palmarejo Mine plans to use old tires to enhance the biodiversity of the area by providing bat habitation. Not only will the effort reduce waste, but it will provide a safe place for the bats away from the mining activities.

In addition to the materials found and used onsite, mine tailings and waste rock are reused in varying capacity, such as for construction material and underground mine backfilling. Opportunities to reuse these materials are evaluated routinely as Coeur strives for continuous improvement.

In November 2018, the Wharf Maintenance Department worked with partners to install two Clean Burn 5000 furnaces (500,000 maximum BTUs per hour each) at a cost of about $14,000 per unit. The furnaces lead the industry as the cleanest burning most efficient used oil heating system. Both units together burn approximately five gallons of oil per hour to maintain a temperature of 65 degrees in the shop. The furnaces displace $4,900 worth of natural gas consumption per year per unit, they prevent roughly ¼ of the used oil that is produced at Wharf from having to be shipped off site for disposal or recycling, a savings of approximately $1,000 per year. The system has been in use since mid-November 2018, and if cost savings prove to be as expected, expansion of used oil heating systems may be developed for use in other facilities at the site. Wharf generates approximately 3000-4000 gallons of used oil per month and could provide fuel to as many as four of these units to provide enough heat for 20,000-25,000 square feet of industrial building.

Wharf Resources Maintenance Department leads the way in recycling used oil to heat their shop and recycling fuel filters

In addition to recycling their used oil, reducing waste and heating costs, the Wharf Resources Maintenance Department recycles their used oil and fuel filters. This one action is projected to 22,000 pounds (11 tons) of metal waste from going to the local landfill annually! That not only Prevents fuel residue from being introduced to the local landfill, but it is predicted to return roughly $1200.00 (minus recycler handling fees) from the sale of scrap metal to the site annually.

Recycled Oil

Biodiversity

Understanding, measuring, protecting, and enhancing biodiversity in local areas is an important part of protecting our planet. Coeur conducts biodiversity impact assessments for each operation prior to development and these assessments are updated periodically to support major mine operational changes. By assessing and monitoring the biotic environment, we are able to better understand the influence of a proposed action before development begins, and therefore, we can factor in design changes, reclamation and conservation strategies. These studies help us to develop mitigation plans for conservation and habitat management throughout the lifecycle of the operation.

0% of Coeur's proved or probable reserves are located in or near sites with protected conservation status or endangered species habitat.

A variety of strategies are used to reduce biodiversity impacts near operations. Some examples include the following:

  • Site Design

    Site Design

    Potential biodiversity impacts are planned in initial site designs with an aim to minimize area disturbance and fence off process areas to protect wildlife.

  • Bird Balls

    Bird Balls

    Operations utilize black, plastic balls that float in open-solution ponds to help deter birds and water fowl from the pond.

  • Concurrent Reclamation

    Concurrent Reclamation

    Reclamation is an important aspect to the mine-life cycle. Each operation utilizes a combination of native species of grasses, plants and trees while practicing concurrent reclamation when possible.

  • Wildlife Management

    Wildlife Management

    Each operation has extensive wildlife management controls, which may include fencing, guzzlers, burying process solution drip tubes, and controlling speed limits to reduce collision with wildlife. Our reclamation plans also detail how site habitat will be restored to a condition that allows for the establishment of a self-sustaining ecosystem and productive post-mining land use for wildlife.

  • Invasive Species

    Invasive Species

    Coeur works to enhance the biodiversity of its sites by protecting areas against invasive species and planting native species.

 

Across operations over time, Coeur has disturbed 6,729 acres through 2018, with 1,974 acres reclaimed. We are committed to concurrent reclamation activities at our mine sites, restoring land as we mine other areas.

  • Palmarejo
  • Silvertip
  • Kensington
Palmarejo Protects Biodiversity
Cacti Rescue

Palmarejo mine is not located near any protected areas, but the environmental team still works hard to protect the local wildlife, flora and fauna. The team has well-defined protocols that include the rescue and relocation of wild species in addition to a remediation program that focuses on reforestation and soil retention. The activities are guided by ecological studies that assess the potential impact operations may have on the local species, the most recent two of which were completed in 2015 and 2018.

An example of a good ecological practice carried out under this guidance is the relocation and rescue of cacti. There are 518 different cacti species endemic to Mexico and considered ecologically important. Cacti are source of food, refuge and habitat to numerous species of small mammals (rodents and bats), birds, reptiles and insects. Conscious of this ecological role, the Environmental department developed a program to protect this important group of plants. Previous to any activity that requires vegetation clearing, the area is surveyed by the environmental team and cacti species are identified, collected and relocated to areas outside mining activities.

Silvertip, Protecting Protecting People While Protecting the Environment
Silvertip Access Road Reclamation

In the summer of 2018, Silvertip made some much-needed improvements to its access road by way of a repair and maintenance program, providing a benefit to the mine and the community. The access road is considered a public roadway and accommodates not only mine traffic but also hunters from the public. The road was showing some signs of wear, and it was reflected in the surround environment. Over the summer, Silvertip crews worked to properly install culverts and mitigate runoff water from the road, which will help protect the flora, fauna and water resources. The improvements are already making a big impact on the surrounding environment!

Protections for Euchlachon Spawning Season at Kensington
Alaska Boat

The euchlacon is commonly known as candlefish, smelt or herring and is a small, anadromous (i.e. moving between freshwater and saltwater) found from Northern California to Alaska[1].

Each spring during April and May, euchlacon congregate near Slate Cove which is where the primary dock for the Kensington mine is located. The congregation of euchlacon, or smelt, attract large numbers of marine mammals for a period of two to three weeks to feed including seals, humpback whales, and Orcas and especially Steller Sea Lions.

Coeur works closely with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to determine when the highest numbers of marine mammals will be in the area and enacts best management practices (BMPs) to protect the marine mammals during that time. These BMP’s include:

[1] Source: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/eulachon

Acid Rock Drainage

Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) is predicted to occur, is actively mitigated and is under treatment or remediation at 40% of Coeur’s active mine sites (Kensington and Wharf). ARD is predicted to occur at Kensington not as a result of mining but due to disturbing in-site ARD generating material during the construction of the tailings impoundment. At Wharf, ARD is predicted to occur in an isolated area in Liberty Pit at Golden Reward. The nature and extent have been characterized, it has been mitigated and is currently under treatment through a cap and alkaline amendment – no water treatment is needed or occurring.


Tailings Dam Management

Coeur meets all applicable regulatory requirements regarding tailings management at applicable sites. Plans and risk management procedures are developed and implemented as an initial step in the mine lifecycle. Kensington, Palmarejo and Silvertip are the three sites that manage tailings, and they each model their practices on industry standards.

  • Kensington’s tailings facility is designed and operated pursuant to the ADNR Dam Safety Program and regulations.
  • Silvertip relies on several sources to define controls and the design of tailings rock storage facility features and ancillary facilities: British Columbia (BC) regulations (such as Health, Safety, and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia); Canadian Dam Association Guidelines; Interim Guidelines of the BC Mine Waste Rock Pile Research committee; and Towards Sustainable Mining: Tailings Management (Mining Association of Canada).
  • Palmarejo is authorized by SEMARNAT (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales).

Many controls are in place to help manage tailings dams. Engineering controls include detection and monitoring technology. Administrative controls include daily and weekly protocols for inspecting the instruments and facilities to check that they are in operational condition and are in compliance.

Quarterly geochemical testing of tailings and other controls provide information to help us manage our tailings dams and materials. Coeur also seeks to mitigate risk by reducing waste, such as, reusing tailings material when possible. Regular inspections by regulatory officials assist us in complying with all regulations and standards within each jurisdiction.


Closure Planning

Coeur is committed to protecting the environment, while at the same time operating in a responsible manner to maximize the benefits of a modern extractive industry. Each of our operations has a closure plan in place to promote community development and protect our environment long after operations cease, contributing to sustainable mining. At Coeur, we work in partnership with our communities, stakeholders and regulatory agencies to develop a comprehensive closure plan prior to the commencement of operations at any site. Throughout the life of the mine, the plan is reviewed and updated on an periodic basis to meet evolving needs.

Coeur’s Reclamation Approach is guided by the following principles:

Protect public and worker safety

Minimize surface disturbance and environmental impact to the extent practicable

Create diverse, reclaimed landscapes to promote vegetation and habitat diversity and hydrologic stability over time

Restore site habitat to a condition that will allow for the establishment of a self-sustaining ecosystem and achievement of stable and productive post mining land uses for wildlife, livestock grazing, dispersed recreation, open space, mineral exploration (varies from site to site)

Return Project-related disturbances to productive post-mining land uses

Limit visual impacts, blend with natural features

Establish stable surface topographic and hydrologic conditions during mining

Establish stable, diverse and self-sustaining plant communities

Complete concurrent reclamation or reclamation of facilities as soon as practicable during the production period

100% of Coeur’s operations have comprehensive closure plans in place. In partnership with our communities and regulators, we have achieved our target.

Golden Cross - A Modern Mining Closure Success

Golden Cross in the Waitekauri Valley of New Zealand is a modern mining closure success story. The original underground mine operated between 1895 and 1920. Mining operations recommenced in December 1991, and Coeur Mining, then Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation, purchased the mine as a joint venture in 1993. The mine operated until 1998 and produced over 20 tonnes of gold and 52 tonnes of silver, providing significant economic investment to New Zealand as well as 243 direct and 750 indirect jobs at its peak.[1],[2]

Today, little trace of mining activity remains at the site. The land has been returned to a self-sustaining ecosystem and is used for wildlife, farming, grazing, pasture and recreation[3]. Exemplifying our commitment to Pursue a Higher Standard, Coeur exceeded regulatory requirements in the rehabilitation and enhancement of the area by enhancing the biodiversity, wildlife and riparian habitats. These enhancements were achieved through activities such as cultivating and planting native plants and protecting stream beds. Through the mine life, “over 100,000 native trees and shrubs were planted on and around the mine site.” [4]

The water treatment plant is the only remaining infrastructure and will be monitored continuously until the untreated underground mine water meets surface water quality standards. Overall, Golden Cross is an example of successful and sustainable reclamation and demonstrates Coeur’s commitment to environmental excellence and strong reclamation principles.[5]

[1] Wilson, K. and Barker, R. (2012). Green from Gold: the rehabilitation of Golden Cross
[2] Bailey, J. (2016). Golden Cross work sets the standard. Waterford Press, Spring
[3] Bailey, J. (2016). Golden Cross work sets the standard. Waterford Press, Spring
[4] Wilson, K. and Barker, R. (2012). Green from Gold: the rehabilitation of Golden Cross
[5] Bailey, J. (2016). Golden Cross work sets the standard. Waterford Press, Spring