At Coeur, We Pursue a Higher Standard by protecting the environment through sustainable production and a focus on best practices. We also recognize that the changing climate will continue to impact our business over the long-term and became a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Supporter in 2020.
Additionally, as a precious metals producer, along with efforts to reduce our impact on the planet and natural capital, we have the unique opportunity to supply minerals that play a key role in the clean energy transition, such as silver that is used for solar panels and electrification.
For more information on our management strategies and performance, please refer to our 2020 Responsibility Report.
We recognize that the climate is changing, which may impact our business and the communities where we operate over the long-term. To that end, we continually assess the extent to which we may be affected and find opportunities within our business to offset potential risks. Mines also consume resources that could be adversely impacted by climate change, and we may be impacted by increased water scarcity, energy prices and climate-related policies that may be introduced in some jurisdictions in which the Company operates.
As we continually evaluate the risks and opportunities to our business presented by climate change, Coeur is taking specific action to assess and manage the potential impact we have on climate and the environment.
Our initial climate strategy centers on four main pillars:
Knowing and understanding our risks and opportunities
Managing and mitigating our impact by taking steps to reduce potential risks and enhance our resilience
Producing the supply of minerals that are essential for clean energy production and infrastructure
Measuring and reporting metrics, targets and increasing transparency and accountability
In 2021, we plan to conduct a scenario analysis considering a 1.5 degree scenario and will incorporate the results into our business planning.
Tracking our energy usage, efficiency and Scopes 1 (direct) and 2 (indirect) emissions is important to Coeur as we monitor our impact on the environment as well as operational costs over time .
In 2020, Coeur went through a comprehensive target-setting process to develop an organization-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target. The target includes all Scopes 1 and 2 emissions under Coeur’s operational control (operating facilities and subsidiaries as defined by the GHG Protocol). Energy leads and champions from each site were selected to lead the site-based effort of identifying and implementing energy reduction opportunities following corporate guidance. We also had a third-party audit historical and estimated calculations to provide validation, identify any inconsistencies, and provide recommendations for improvement.
We see our initial emissions reduction target as an important step, and we want to acknowledge the large team effort that went into the process. Moving forward, we plan to build on the initiative as We Pursue a Higher Standard and are committed to responsible, sustainable resource development.
As one part of our strategy to lower emissions, Coeur is leveraging decarbonization where possible. In 2020, Wharf signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with its local energy supplier, Black Hills Energy, to secure more than 40% of its electricity from wind sources starting in 2021. This amounts to an expected 6,520 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent savings in 2021, assuming 2019-levels electricity use. Wharf is working with Black Hills Energy to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and plans to increase its proportion of power generated from wind as capacity is available, with a goal to ultimately source 100% of its electricity from wind generated power.
Corriedale Wind Energy Project Providing Electrical Energy for the Wharf Mine
Water is a vital part of mining operations, and we are committed to being responsible stewards of this important natural resource to avoid straining our local communities or our future supply.
Our water management practices (quantity and quality) and policies facilitate increased efficiency over time and minimize strain on local resources and on our future supply. In 2020, we took steps to meaningfully improve the consistency of water-related definitions and measurement methods across sites and have continued our engagement with local communities and associations, as we value their input into our water management processes.
Coeur proactively works to reduce our environmental footprint by managing and minimizing waste and increasing the amount of recycling at each site.
Coeur is committed to excellence and stewardship in protecting the environment, and waste management is another example of how we operate in an environmentally responsible manner. Our waste management process begins with, at a minimum, compliance with jurisdictional solid and hazardous waste regulations. The complex nature of these regulations requires site-specific planning, procedures and documentation of solid and hazardous waste stream disposal processes. In 2021, we will develop and implement a formal third-party waste stewardship program to minimize downstream risks associated with hazardous waste.
In addition, as we avoid unnecessary generation of waste, we also prevent and/or reduce pollution. Waste minimization and management involves source reduction and environmentally sound recycling, including reuse where possible. Our employees are responsible for the elimination, reduction, and proper disposal of waste.
Source reduction and waste minimization are essential elements for controlling pollution to prevent adverse impact to the air, land, and water. We periodically conduct waste minimization assessments to identify where materials can be prevented from becoming a waste or where new waste minimization approaches can be effectively applied to a waste stream.
Coeur adheres to the regulatory requirements regarding tailings management at our sites and strives to Pursue a Higher Standard in tailings management as we Protect our people, places and planet. Plans and risk management procedures are developed and implemented as an initial step in the mine lifecycle.
Kensington and Palmarejo are Coeur’s two active operational sites that have tailings dams. Neither qualifies as Extreme or Very High risk according to the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) criteria. The Golden Cross facility is closed and has been reclaimed; however, we actively monitor and manage post-closure site conditions. Coeur uses a framework for Tailings Management Sustainability, which is based on Five Keys of Success that uphold zero harm principles and ESG practices to responsibly operate, to preserve our social license to operate, and to improve the industry’s image.
Five Keys of Success for tailings management sustainability:
Follow high standards of design and construction
Apply rigorous operations, maintenance, and surveillance practices
Uphold governance controls
Maintain low risk tailings management operations
Engage the public - be transparent with our neighbors, stakeholders, and investment community
Proactive elements that set Coeur apart from historically problematic tailings facilities.
In an effort to increase transparency, we developed a slide deck with an overview of our tailings facilities and risk mitigation efforts available here
Additionally, the disclosure included in the link directly below this paragraph is in response to the request from the Church of England for information on tailings dam management at each of our facilities.
As in all areas of our business, We Pursue a Higher Standard in tailings management to protect our people, places and environment. I, Mitchell J. Krebs, President and Chief Executive Officer, attest that the information presented is true to the best of my knowledge, based on Coeur’s governance, technical and review systems.
Understanding, measuring, protecting and enhancing biodiversity in local areas is an important part of protecting our planet. At Coeur, we seek to understand, measure, protect and enhance biodiversity in local areas as it is an important part of protecting the planet and preserving essential ecosystems. We conduct 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 can better understand the influence of a proposed action before development begins, which in turn allows us to factor in design changes, reclamation and conservation strategies. These studies help us develop mitigation plans for conservation and habitat management throughout the lifecycle of the operation.
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
Concurrent Reclamation – Reclamation is an important aspect to the mine life cycle. Each operation practices concurrent reclamation when possible, utilizing a combination of native species of grasses, plants and trees
Invasive Species – Coeur works to enhance the biodiversity of its sites by protecting areas against invasive species through transport prevention and monitoring, active removal and planting native species Examples
Wildlife Management – Each operation has extensive wildlife management controls, which may include fencing, guzzlers, bird balls (i.e., plastic balls that cover treatment ponds), burying process solution drip tubes and controlling speed limits to reduce collision with wildlife. Our reclamation plans also detail how site habitats will be restored to a condition that allows for the establishment of a self-sustaining ecosystem and productive post-mining land use for wildlife
In 2020, Coeur Rochester entered into a first-of-its-kind agreement with Crawford Ranch, LLC to protect critical sagebrush habitat in Nevada while continuing environmentally sensitive and sustainable mining practices. This was the first project agreement between a mine operator and a private landowner to secure conservation credits under Nevada’s Conservation Credit System, which is overseen by the stakeholder-driven Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Council. Coeur Rochester is committed to provide full funding to preserve and enhance over 3,000 acres of vital greater sage-grouse habitat in Elko and Humboldt Counties for the next 30 years. According to the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “the project will also support healthy habitats for other native wildlife species, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout, mule deer, and more.”1
The agreement was made possible by the work of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, Crawford Ranch and Coeur Rochester to preserve sage-grouse and wildlife habitats in Nevada.
1 Source: Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources press release: “First-of-its kind land conservation agreement will protect Greater Sage-Grouse habitat, support rural economy”. June 4, 2020.
Sage Grouse at the Rochester Mine by K. Cutrera
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.
The Company applies the same high-level standards for its operations to its expansion, reclamation and closure processes to protect surrounding communities from being unduly impacted. Extensive steps are taken to consult and collaborate with local communities on the operation and closure planning. Then, throughout the life of the mine, the plan is reviewed and updated on a periodic basis to meet evolving needs. The plan aims to account for long-term sustainability issues such as potential climate-related impacts and post-closure use.
Reclamation and closure are included in detailed closure plans in place for each location before operations begin. Closure plans also include financial resources set aside that are sufficient, as approved by the permitting agency, to cover the closure and rehabilitation of the land, including considerations for biodiversity, returning it to productive post-mining land uses according to the timeline laid out in the original closure plan.
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
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
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 (varies from site to site)
Limit visual impacts, blend with natural features
In partnership with our communities and regulators, we have achieved our target of comprehensive closure plans in place at 100% of Coeur's operations.
Golden Cross, in the Waitekauri Valley of New Zealand, is a closure success story. The original underground mine operated between 1895 and 1920 and again in 1991, closing operations in 1998. Today, little trace of mining activity remains at the site. Within the planned timeline, the land was returned to a self-sustaining ecosystem and is used for wildlife, farming, grazing, pasture and recreation.1
Since 2003, the Allan family has called the Golden Cross area home. The family farm is adjacent to the site, and their sheep graze on the reclaimed land under an agreement with the Company. In 2020, the Allans added honeybees to the family business due to the clean water, quality of the rehabilitated land and native bush. The bees produce natural New Zealand honey that is processed and packaged locally in a facility powered by the sun.
The partnership is a great example of successful reclamation, with the closed site contributing to the local community development while also providing recreational opportunities and maintaining the environment long after operations cease.
 Wilson, K. and Barker, R. (2012). Green from Gold: the rehabilitation of Golden Cross