At Goldcorp, we believe in acting ethically and respecting all of our stakeholders, everywhere we operate. This is as important in Northern Canada as it is at our Marlin mine, in Guatemala – where the company has been proactively addressing human rights for almost 10 years. In 2008, Goldcorp undertook a Human Rights Assessment (HRA) conducted by a third party, whose primary objective was to provide an independent assessment of the potential human rights impacts from operations at the Marlin mine. Goldcorp’s responses to the HRA’s recommendations can be viewed on the company’s website.
Over the years, we have provided information around key elements of closure – particularly the financial provisions involved – to ensure it is carried out adequately and to prevent long-term impacts on surrounding communities. Effective closure planning at Marlin has also included work to mitigate the socio-economic challenges that result from a mine’s closure. At the request of shareholders – and recognizing the need to communicate openly with many stakeholders on these plans, and about ongoing successes as well as challenges – Goldcorp agreed to undertake a status review regarding the implementation of commitments made following the HRA. The report commissioned by Goldcorp is available here.
The end of operations is a good time to assess our performance – and, where necessary, realign before we enter this next phase of the mining life cycle – to ensure respect for human rights remains an integral part of closure activities. We also want to acknowledge the importance of transparency at all stages of our operations, including closure.
Marlin’s Closure Plan Overview
Throughout its operations phase, Marlin invested over US$130 million in environmental projects, including award-winning flood protection infrastructure, tailings filtration systems, pit backfill, and progressive reclamation and reforestation activities, in preparation for closure. Goldcorp also voluntarily established a US$29.7 million closure bond with the government of Guatemala in 2012. Furthermore, this assurance is backed by Goldcorp’s approval of a US$75 million project to reclaim the Marlin property beyond progressive reclamation starting in 2017.
Although the diagram below illustrates key milestones from 2017 to 2026, closure planning has been integrated into the operations at Marlin for many years. The Marlin pit progressive reclamation project started in 2012 and has placed over three million cubic metres of filtered tailings and waste rock back into the pit. This is a best-in-class technique that results in a stable, environmentally benign landscape. In December 2015, backfilling of the main pit was completed; the cover of the pit wall was started in 2016 and completed in 2017.
In addition to these activities, Marlin’s closure activities will include the following objectives:
- Revegetation of the open pit, the tailings facility and all disturbed areas
- Removal of infrastructure (including plant, buildings and related facilities)
- Reclamation of non-essential roads and clearings
- Strengthening of the Sierra Madre Foundation (the Foundation), including the completion of testing of various agri-business projects that provide viable income streams to sustainably fund the Foundation’s work
- Transfer of lands outside the Foundation
- Monitoring and maintenance of the site until 2026
Following Through and Looking Ahead
Water was one of the largest stakeholder concerns throughout the life of the Marlin mine, and specifically access to potable water. Goldcorp recognizes access to clean water as a human right, and Marlin’s commitment to support programs that enhance access to water has taken many forms. This included delivery of water to communities well outside the mine’s direct area of influence, ultimately resulting in construction of seven potable water systems. Over the mine’s closure phase, Marlin will provide financial and technical assistance to complete the water systems in the communities of Escupijá, Sipacapa, Canoj and San Isidro Setivá. The mine worked with local development councils (COCODEs) to establish water commissions that support and manage the water infrastructure – crucial for the long-term sustainability of the water projects, which, after initial investment and construction, will be fully operated and maintained by the communities themselves. The Guatemalan government has committed to improving potable water infrastructure in the region and is currently focused on seven additional communities located upstream of the mine. Looking beyond these projects, ongoing site water monitoring will take place until 2026. This monitoring will ensure that the site is performing as expected. The Foundation will assume responsibility for maintenance and monitoring activities as the closed site matures. It is expected that the site will be physically and chemically sustainable well before the monitoring period ends.
Finally, during the transition between operations and closure, we will continue to evaluate opportunities to sustain economic benefits for both the Foundation and the surrounding communities. The Foundation will review and develop agricultural opportunities beyond the inaugural floral, livestock and produce currently being harvested through various productive projects.
Although most of the physical infrastructure on the site will be removed, there is an opportunity to utilize some key infrastructure, such as buildings, for future use. A number of businesses and institutional and entrepreneurial opportunities will continue to be reviewed, many of which may provide employment and/or future opportunities for the Foundation and communities. Beyond these opportunities, green energy such as wind, solar and biomass are being reviewed and evaluated for potential investment. These sustainable technologies have the ability to provide sustainable employment, investment and energy for the Foundation and communities long into the future and will complement other initiatives.
For further information on Goldcorp’s commitment to sustainability, visit the 2016 Sustainability Report