Managing Environmental Impacts

Managing Environmental Impacts

Pan American Silver takes every practical measure to minimize and mitigate the environmental impacts of our operations in each phase of the mining cycle – from exploration through development, construction, operation, closure, and post-closure.

Pan American Silver takes every practical measure to minimize and mitigate the environmental impacts of our operations in each phase of the mining cycle – from exploration through development, construction, operation, closure, and post-closure.

We strive for continual improvement and have adopted best practice international standards, including MAC’s TSM program, across all our operations. 

Our Approach

Policy

  • Environmental Policy – Sets out commitments to address environmental issues, including: compliance with environmental standards, laws and regulations; efficient use of energy and other natural resources; consultation with COIs; and utilizing effective and proven practices to minimize environmental impacts.  
  • Corporate Environmental Standards – Our internal standards are intended to help sites implement best practices to manage and mitigate impacts in key areas. We have developed standards for tailings as well as biodiversity and mine closure. We are working on converting previous draft guidelines to add to our set of standards, including guidelines for: water use and management; energy and air emissions; waste management and recycling; and hazardous chemicals. 

Plan

  • Baseline data collection and pre-construction environmental impact assessments help us plan our work and monitor the impacts of our operations.

Implement

  • Programs and initiatives – Our programs are designed to manage and mitigate our impacts on the environment and communities, and to maximize the benefits of the environmental knowledge and expertise we develop for other stakeholders in the regions where we operate. 

Internal Capacity Building

  • Training – We train our local teams on standards and procedures to continually improve our environmental management performance. 

Evaluate

  • TSM protocols – Our sites self-assess their performance against relevant protocols and develop corresponding action plans for improvement. 
  • Environmental Audits – Each mine is audited at least every other year to assess the mine’s facilities, operating procedures and control systems to ensure potential risks are being managed correctly. Audits are conducted by professionals from our other mines. The audit process fosters sharing of best practice and integration among mines and helps ensure that site level procedures are consistent with our corporate standards.

Accountability

  • Each operation is responsible for the development and implementation of procedures and programs that comply with our Environmental Policy and corporate initiatives. 
  • The Vice President, Environment and Sustainability oversees environmental issues for our Company. 

Our Performance

No significant environmental incidents (SEIs) occurred at our mines in 2018. We define SEIs as those that negatively impact the environment or communities outside of our mines or project sites, including environmental incidents that significantly impact the community perception of Pan American Silver. Our focus on prevention, environmental management through our auditing program, and emergency preparedness and crisis management at the site and corporate levels supports our ability to avoid SEIs.

In 2018, our corporate office and sites conducted self-assessments against the TSM protocols and developed action plans to address gaps and improve internal guidelines. Our objective is to achieve at least TSM Level A criteria across all protocols and frameworks by 2020. Our newly-acquired Tahoe operations will have three years to achieve at least TSM Level A criteria.

We saw advancement in the implementation of an integrated safety and environmental management system at our Peruvian operations due to the strong support and leadership of the Peruvian senior management team. At Huaron and Morococha, our team is working to drive integration of the TSM protocols with the environmental management system. 

Manantial Espejo completed an update of its environmental management system to align with TSM protocols. 

Environmental Audits 

Having completed several audit cycles at each site, we observed that environmental performance can be affected when our operations undergo significant changes. For example, La Colorada’s performance was temporarily affected, as reflected in the second audit, when the mine was under expansion. Changes in operations at Manantial Espejo, including suspension of open pit mining and the addition of two new nearby projects, resulted in reduced performance during the third audit. In comparison, we observed major performance improvements following an initial audit once the most significant, and often historic, environmental issues have been addressed. This was the case at Huaron, Morococha, and San Vicente. 

Recent audits at all of our mines have  reported only low level non-conformances, such as lack of separation of recyclable waste and lack of correct signage but no significant non-conformances. We plan to address these issues through improved management systems and operator training as part of the TSM process.

Environmental Audit Performance