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

 At Coeur, We Pursue a Higher Standard by striving for best-in-class environmental performance while meeting the needs of today and respecting the needs of future generations. We protect our environment through a sustainable production approach coupled with a focus on best practices.

Measuring, monitoring and reducing our impact on the environment is a team effort important to Coeur where management and employees place trust in each other to do the right thing and speak up where necessary. We aim to empower our site managers to look for and raise ideas for potential improvement opportunities.

We consider current and potential environmental challenges, risks and opportunities for improvement and community partnerships as integral to the mining life cycle. Monitoring and implementing new regulatory policies regarding environmental compliance are also key.

Prior to the construction and/or extension of Coeur’s mines, we conduct extensive environmental assessments, baseline characterization studies and resource modeling. The outcomes of these assessments are essential for proper mine planning and implementation of environmental controls for operation through closure.

On an ongoing basis, we conduct site-specific environmental risk reviews and utilize a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate performance results by mine. We believe that this systematic approach leads to awareness, risk mitigation and a pursuit of continuous improvement. Comprehensive environmental management plans in conjunction with topic-specific plans, such as waste management and storm water protection, at each site provide guidance on how to implement our environmental initiatives and meet or exceed regulatory standards.

Coeur utilizes an environmental management system to help standardize data across sites and improve data tracking, management and reporting capabilities. This system also allows us to integrate leading indicator measurement and reporting and to set goals and targets for improvement.

Environment Goal graphic

For more information on our management strategies and performance, please refer to our 2019 Responsibility Report.

Climate Change

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, including increased water scarcity, energy prices and climate-related policies that may be introduced in some jurisdictions in which the Company operates.

As part of our commitment to responsible business, examples of how we are taking action to manage our climate-related risks as well as the potential impact we have on climate include:

Reducing our energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Increasing recycling and beneficial reuse of water at our operations and using water-efficient processes to reduce use and maintain robust monitoring programs to protect existing water resources

Assessing overall risk including scenario analysis

Enhancing our climate-related reporting and disclosures


Energy and Emissions

Tracking our energy usage, efficiency and emissions is important to Coeur as we monitor our impact on the environment as well as operational costs over time. Our principal sources of energy use include diesel (54%), purchased electricity (22%) and natural gas (21%). We recognize that our energy consumption is directly related to our greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy Consumption and Efficiency

Coeur strives to increase production while using less energy over the long-term. In order to measure our progress, we track total energy usage and energy usage relative to tons processed and ounces produced. We aim to realize efficiencies as we scale up production, and we aspire to mine and process smarter using existing infrastructure. To help accomplish this, in 2020, our sites are developing energy conservation plans to further reduce our energy use and resulting emissions and costs.

The Company also looks for renewable energy opportunities as a growing and viable solution to fuels reduction and substitution. The Company is exploring opportunities for increasing renewable energy to power our sites.


Water

Water is a necessary input into the mining process, and we are committed to being responsible stewards of this important natural resource to avoid straining our local communities or our future supply.

From initial mine design, our operations have controls to protect water resources. Extensive modeling influences decision-making around mine development, operations, closure and post-closure. Our internal water management plans include considerations for variability due to changes in our assets, mine phases and levels of precipitation.


  • Rochester
  • Wharf
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 instead of water.

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 improve water quality. 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 Environment and Natural Resources. This is a safe and ecological way to treat the water used onsite.


Waste

Coeur proactively works to reduce our environmental footprint by minimizing waste and increasing the amount of recycling at each site. Comprehensive waste management plans at each site govern solid and hazardous waste management. Example waste minimization efforts at our sites include the following:

Source reduction through efficient and evolving operating practices, solvent substitution and inventory control of paints and solvents

Environmentally sound recycling of aluminum, paper, cardboard, solvents, used oil, antifreeze, lead acid batteries, fire extinguisher powder, scrap metal, e-waste, fuels and Chlorinated Fluorocarbons (CFCs)/Refrigerants

Product substitution of materials that may potentially generate a hazardous waste to products that are environmentally sound, such as the elimination of chlorinated solvents in all facilities

One notable example of waste recycling in 2020 is Palmarejo, which plans to use old tires to create bat habitats. This effort will enhance the biodiversity of the area, reduce waste and provide a habitat for the bats away from mining activities.

Waste management also comes in the form of our business recycling programs. These programs are specific to each site and depend largely on the resources and services available. Sites and office locations worked to improve recycling activities in 2019, and we expect this trend to continue.

 

Wharf Maintenance Department leads the way

In November 2018, the Wharf Maintenance Department worked with partners to install two Clean Burn 5000 furnaces, offsetting traditional fuel usage by using used oil generated from the mine equipment fleet as the primary fuel source. The furnaces lead the industry as the cleanest burning and most efficient used oil heating system. Both units together burn approximately five gallons of used oil per hour to maintain a temperature of 65 degrees in the shop. The furnaces reduce emissions while cutting costs. 

In addition to recycling their used oil, reducing waste and heating costs, the Wharf Maintenance Department recycles their used oil and fuel filters. This action is projected to keep 22,000 pounds (11 tons) of metal waste from going to the local landfill 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 proven or probable reserves are located in or near sites with protected conservation status or endangered species habitat.
  • Palmarejo
  • 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.

Protections for Eulachon Spawning Season at Kensington
Alaska Boat

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

Each spring during April and May, eulachon congregate near Slate Cove which is where the primary dock for the Kensington mine is located. The congregation of eulachon 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:

Reducing the crew vessel speed

Prohibiting fueling the area and fuel shipments to site

Limiting barges to site

Hiring a marine observer to accompany to the crew vessel to document marine mammals


Tailings

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, Palmarejo and Silvertip are the three sites that manage tailings, and they each model their practices on industry standards.

Kensington and Palmarejo are the two active operational sites that have tailings dams. The Golden Cross facility is closed and has been reclaimed; however, we actively monitor and manage post closure site conditions. 

Proactive elements that set Coeur apart from the problem dams

Low Exposure Profile Graphic

In an effort to increase transparency and demonstrate how our facilities are different from those which have recently failed, 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.

Click here to view the full disclosure noted above.


Closure

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

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

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

Establish stable surface topographic and hydrologic conditions during mining

Establish stable, diverse and self-sustaining plant communities

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 - 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