Environmental Incidents and Regulatory Compliance
New Gold operations are always focused on complying with environmental laws and regulations, and we work with appropriate government agencies, partners and key communities of interest to ensure that our activities meet or exceed their expectations and/or requirements.
An important part of our Environmental Management Standards is the Obligations and Commitments Register. Each site compiles a detailed register with all relevant laws and permits noted, as well as accountable personnel identified. To ensure compliance is maintained on an ongoing basis, these registers are routinely reviewed to ensure that any changes to local requirements are reflected in the register and the site’s management systems.
Despite our best efforts sometimes incidents occur. We are committed to prompt response and application of appropriate remedial measures to prevent or minimize any impacts. We are also committed to transparent internal and external reporting. As part of the New Gold Environmental Management Standards, Incident Reporting Guidelines have been developed to ensure that appropriate control and response, reporting, and investigation is completed for all incidents. These guidelines also categorize incidents consistently across all jurisdictions by identifying those events that are significant to New Gold, independent of local regulations. Furthermore, New Gold sites must internally report and rank notable environmental events regardless of their regulatory significance.
New Gold ensures that all our sites are prepared and equipped to handle emergencies. A crisis management exercise is regularly performed for each site, including a simulated environmental or safety incident, to test each site’s ongoing readiness to address an incident and to test internal and external communication protocols.
In 2017, New Gold was subject to charges in relation to two incidents from 2016. New Gold was charged with five breaches of the Environmental Protection Act (Ontario) in connection with effluent discharges at the Rainy River project in July 2016 in excess of permit limits. New Gold plead guilty to discharging un‐ionized ammonia above the regulatory limit in the summer of 2016 and failing to report the incident within the timeframe specified by law, although the prosecution acknowledged that there was no attempt to hide the incident. The three remaining charges were withdrawn. New Gold was sentenced to a fine of C$100,000 for the discharge and C$50,000 for the failure to report the 2016 discharge. A mandatory victim surcharge of 25% applies to the fines, for a total amount of C$187,500.
Our Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Standard includes an Incident Reporting and Ranking Table, in which severity of incidents is ranked catastrophic, major, moderate, minor or low. This is an internal standard that ensures that the appropriate level of control and response is applied to any incident. It also categorizes incidents consistently across all jurisdictions by identifying those events that are significant to New Gold independent of local regulations.