Centamin is committed to safeguarding the environment and managing potential impacts on water, land, climate, air quality and biodiversity, and engaging stakeholders on effective solutions. This includes a commitment to avoid, minimise, mitigate and/or remediate our impacts on the environment, and to maintain overall ecosystem health and resilience in the areas in which we operate.
The stakeholder materiality assessment identified the following environmental aspects as key priorities for Centamin: environmental compliance, energy and climate change. Our approach and performance on each of these material aspects is described in the section to follow.
Centamin’s approach to environmental management is set out in our Environmental Policy, which commits Centamin to:
- Comply as a minimum with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements of the countries in which we operate
- Ensure environmental risks and opportunities are captured in the Company’s risk management framework
- Set measurable performance targets to drive accountability and improve environmental performance
- Assess and monitor our impacts and conduct periodic reviews of environmental performance
- Be transparent in communicating our environmental performance to stakeholders.
- Safe management of Tailings Storage Facilities and hazardous materials
- Support the objectives of global climate accords and measure and report our GHG emissions in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol
The policy is supported at operational level by an HSES Management Systems Standard and tailored Environmental Management Plan that considers the regulatory context of the country and unique environmental risks specific to each site.
We support global efforts to achieve the climate change goals to reduce GHG emissions outlined in international guidance, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”) and the Paris Agreement. We are committed to reducing our contribution to climate change, while also building operational resilience in the face of global warming.
The Company’s climate transition strategy for operational GHG emission reduction comprises:
- Renewable electricity: Sourcing clean power for our operation through the procurement or development of renewable energy supply
- Low carbon power sources: Switching to lower carbon fuels, together with electrification as an alternative to diesel use applications, and
- Energy efficiency: Continuous work to optimise and improve the energy efficiency of all our processes.
In 2022, opportunities were studied and assessed to reduce the operational GHG emissions at Sukari over the life of mine (approximately 14 years). In the short-term, the immediate focus is on the identification and delivery of projects that will effectively reduce operational Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. In 2022, opportunities were studied and assessed to reduce the operational GHG emissions at Sukari over the life of mine (approximately 14 years). Over the longer-term, the Company recognises the need to collaborate with our supply chain to reduce Scope 3 GHG emissions, and more broadly, consider the social and environmental inter-relationships associated with our decarbonisation journey.
2030 CLIMATE TARGET
In the absence of carbon abatement, Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions in 2030 at Sukari are projected to be 550,819 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (“tCO2-e”). This business-as-usual scenario is equivalent to a 14% increase in absolute emissions compared to the 2021 base-year, primarily associated with higher demand on stationary power consumption as Sukari continues to be optimised. Execution of the decarbonisation roadmap is projected to reduce Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 30% compared to our 2021 base-year, resulting in approximate emissions of 335,595 tCO2-e in 2030.
The carbon abatement projects that underpin our interim target of a 30% reduction in operational Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2030 are two-fold and are focussed on the stationary power demand:
20MWAC Solar Power Expansion
In 2022, the Sukari 36MWDC (30MWAC) solar plant was successfully commissioned. Adding an additional 20MWAC extension to the existing solar infrastructure (totalling 50MWAC) would fully meet the baseload power demand of the mine during peak daylight hours.
The execution strategy involves installing 5MWAC each year over four years from 2024. The estimated total capital cost for the 20MWAC solar power expansion is between US$25 million and US$35 million, allowing for inflation and including earthworks, infrastructure connection and battery storage.
50MWAC Grid Connection
Following recent upgrades to Egypt’s power distribution infrastructure, a high voltage grid connection was extended through Marsa Alam, the local city to Sukari, located approximately 25km away from site. Establishing a 50MWAC connection to the national grid, combined with the existing onsite solar plant, would fully meet the electricity needs of the mine without the requirement for onsite thermal power generation using diesel fuel.
Grid electricity is partly generated from renewable sources (12% in 2021), with the remainder from non-renewable fuels, predominantly natural gas. The Egyptian government is planning to increase renewable energy generation to 40% by 2030 as published in their Nationally Determined Contributions. Our 2030 interim target accounts for an increase in renewable energy sourced through the grid, from 12% in 2021 to 38%.
Then Company is targeting grid connection in 2024, and is currently undergoing a tender process for project construction and supply tariff. The early estimated capital costs are between US$20 million and US$30 million.
PROGRESS IN 2022
In 2022, Sukari successfully commissioned the 36MWDC (30MWAC) solar plant and 7MW battery energy storage system, providing a secondary energy source to Sukari and increasing the renewable make-up of site power generation to 20%. This solar plant will save up to 70,000 litres of diesel per day, equivalent to an annual reduction of 60,000 tCO2-e in Scope 1 GHG emissions.
At Sukari, various efficiency initiatives were executed leading to further GHG emission reductions, including:
- Refitting the 48 truck haulage fleet with the lighter weight and more efficient, high-production trays (30 trucks were fitted in 2022; 18 trucks in 2021), resulting in an 8% reduction in fuel consumption per tonne of material moved
- Optimisation of the fine grind process within the comminution circuit in the processing plant
- Replacement of older underground trucks and loaders with more efficient units, and
- LED light bulb conversion across the mine site.
Collectively these initiatives decreased our Scope 1 GHG emissions in excess of 43,000 tCO2-e in 2022, at an equivalent capital carbon abatement expenditure of US$12.6 million.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR FURTHER CARBON ABATEMENT
The Company’s commitment to decarbonisation goes beyond the 2030 interim target and carbon abatement projects detailed above. Several additional opportunities to reduce our GHG emissions have been identified but require further technical and economic studies. Importantly, grid connection would enable Sukari to introduce a range of lower-carbon technologies, including electrification of the mobile mining fleet and ongoing energy efficiencies. These are currently excluded from our interim target.
Electrifying our mining fleet
Operation of the mobile mining fleet represents approximately 50% of our GHG emissions at Sukari. Opportunities to switch from diesel use to power sourced from lower carbon fuels include:
- Hybrid diesel-electric shovels to replace existing open pit face shovels
- New generation hybrid diesel-electric loaders to replace existing underground fleet
- In-pit crushing and conveyors to replace open pit haul trucks for delivery of ore to the mill, and
- Electrification of the underground load and haul fleet.
For each of these opportunities, the technology is commercially available and viable and indicates a positive return on investment within the operational life of Sukari.
At Sukari, 71% of stationary energy consumption is associated with comminution: the grinding and crushing of rock. Through various optimisation initiatives, we believe there is opportunity to fragment particles using less energy than has conventionally been the case. Other opportunities to improve the energy and fuel efficiency of our processes include:
- Development of a fixed plant power management and monitoring system to optimise energy generation and distribution
- Conversion to variable frequency drives for pumps and intermittent rather than continuous operation
- Utilisation of smaller generators in combination with existing thermal power plant, and
- Open pit fleet management and haul road optimisation.
SCOPE 3: DECARBONISING OUR SUPPLY CHAIN
Centamin is committed to mitigating the impact of the supply chain GHG emissions, while recognising that the nature of Scope 3 GHG emissions are largely outside the Company’s direct control. The majority of Scope 3 emissions (98%) are upstream to the Sukari operation and relate to purchased goods, services and capital expenditure.
Initial actions are focused on collaboration with the suppliers to first understand the sources of Scope 3 GHG emissions, then identify how these can be most effectively abated. Preliminary studies of Sukari’s supply chain indicate that approximately 20 of the suppliers generate up to 75% of the Scope 3 GHG emissions. The Company is currently working collaboratively with the key suppliers to verify the carbon footprint of their value chain and opportunities for abatement.
Scope 3 GHG emissions are not yet included in our interim target for carbon abatement. The aim is to set targets for a reduction in Scope 3 GHG emissions by the end of 2024.
Water is a shared, vital and increasingly scarce resource – and also a critical input for mining activities.
Poor management of mining activities and water use can impact the quality and quantity of water available to other users, damage social license and risk potential fines for legal non-compliance. We recognise that access to clean water is a human right and strive to be responsible water users.
Our water management strategy ensures that water is used within the parameters of our permitting requirements and as efficiently as possible by minimising the volume of imported water, maximising the amount of reused water, and managing the potential impact on other water users in our host countries and communities.
Our operations and projects have been plotted on the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct water risk atlas to understand how current and long-term water-related risks may impact the business and ensure that effective water management plans can be developed and put in place. At Sukari, the baseline water measure is considered ‘arid with low water use’ and as such our water management strategy has prioritised water reuse. Our exploration projects in Côte d’Ivoire are considered to be in areas of ‘low water stress’. As the exploration activities have limited water needs, there are currently no water management plans for these projects. Water stress exposure and appropriate management plans will be duly considered should these projects move to development phase.
Access to fresh water at Sukari is highly constrained by extremely low rainfall, high evaporation rates and minimal surface and groundwater supplies. The bulk of water for Sukari (98%) is drawn from the Red Sea and is pumped to site via a 25km pipeline. To minimise the need for desalination, which is both energy intensive and costly, the process plant was purposely designed and is operated to use saltwater Sukari operates a closed-circuit system and does not discharge water to the environment. Wastewater is re used through the plant and for dust suppression. There are strong environmental and commercial drivers to maximise water reuse within the process circuit due to the high energy demand and cost of drawing raw water from the Red Sea.
Our water reporting is aligned with the guidelines of the ICMM Guide to Water Reporting and water accounting framework. We disclose against Water CDP and were rated B- in 2022.
We measure our performance using several key indicators including water quality, rate of reuse and water intensity. To calculate our water intensity, we use two indicators: water withdrawn per kilotonne of ore milled and water withdrawn per oz of gold produced.
At Sukari, approximately 1,100 water quality samples were analysed by the site’s laboratory in 2022, with a further 192 samples collected from boreholes and household water taps for testing by an independent accredited laboratory. No water quality issues, or incidents of regulatory non-compliance were recorded.
Materials stewardship encompasses the responsible management of both processes and product.
Exploration, extracting and refining minerals and metals must be done in a way that minimises environmental impacts and health and safety risks – this includes the optimisation of raw materials, energy efficiency, waste minimisation and reuse. Safeguarding the health and safety of our workforce and reducing our environmental footprint is our responsibility and makes good economic sense.
Gold mining generates a large amount of mineralised waste, the majority in the form of waste rock and tailings. Mine operation also produces a variety of non-mineralised hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials.
There is significant opportunity across our business to be more efficient with the resources we use, and to draw the maximum value from materials requiring a systematic and structured approach to material and process optimisation in each business area.
We completed a life of asset review for Sukari in 2021 that aims to optimise mine development, material movement and plant utilisation. In 2022, this was complemented by studies to optimise process plant performance, energy and water usage and waste management.
At Sukari we have detailed waste management plans in place to ensure all hazardous and non-hazardous waste generated is managed in a manner that minimises environmental risks, and promotes and reduces closure and reclamation liabilities.
Gold mining creates a significant amount of tailings waste as mined ore is crushed, milled and processed to separate the gold from the ore.
This process involves hazardous chemicals and reagents such as cyanide and flotation chemicals, of which residual quantities remain in the tailings after processing. These tailings form the bulk of Centamin’s hazardous waste and are pumped into a specially designed and engineered earth-filled lined impoundment known as a tailings storage facility ("TSF"). TSFs need to be carefully managed and monitored to ensure the stability of the embankment walls and to prevent seepage of possible contaminants into the local environment.
Centamin is committed to the GISTM with the objective to cause no harm to people or the environment through tailings facility design, operation and closure. We are targeting conformance with this standard by August 2023, with a clear roadmap to close the gap on any outstanding items.
TSFs are monitored through a layered assurance system by a team of internal specialists, Sukari’s formally appointed external Engineer of Record (“EoR”) and an Independent Technical Reviewer. In 2022, we developed a formal terms of reference for our EoR and the Accountable Executive in line with the GISTM, and clarified protocols for reporting and communication.
Through quarterly site visits, the EoR is empowered to conduct routine performance and safety reviews of Sukari’s Tailings Management System. The Board have ultimate accountability for the safe management of our tailings facilities including emergency preparedness and response and recovery in the event of failure. The Board is supported in this role by the Technical and Sustainability Committees, who oversees the development and implementation of the Tailings Management System.
At Sukari, tailings management is defined as a critical risk and, as such, standards are in place that define the minimum requirements for the management of tailings to protect human health and the environment through facility design, operation and closure. The Critical Risk Standard also covers incident and emergency response, management of change processes, performance reviews and independent audits.
At Sukari, there are two active TSFs that are designed and operated to provide permanent and secure containment of all solid tailings material over the life of mine. The facilities are designed in accordance with Australian National Committee on Large Dams (“ANCOLD”) guidelines. The embankments have been constructed using the downstream method and the facilities comprise an HDPE geomembrane liner to provide additional seepage reduction, reduce the risk of groundwater contamination and maximise water return to the process. Both facilities have a hazard categorisation of ‘High A’ under the ANCOLD guidelines. There were no incidents associated with the operation of these facilities during the year.
The Sukari operation has a contingency plan to prevent overtopping of the tailings impoundment, as well as early warning systems for slope and foundation failures. TSF1 has a dam crest height of 60 meters and is near full capacity at 69 Mm3, and TSF2 has a dam crest height of 42 meters. Through its operating life, TSF2 is designed to be raised through 13 staged downstream lifts. Sukari generated 12.1 million tonnes of tailings in 2022. Commencing 2023, we plan to beneficially reuse tailings paste for structural backfill of our underground operation.
The TSFs are designed and operated for no discharge to the environment. Excess tailings water is contained within the facility and returned to the process plant for reuse or is lost through evaporation. A seepage control system reduces seepage rates to manageable levels and includes low permeability geomembrane liners. Underdrainage collection and leakage detection systems provide management of leachate collected underneath the liner and returns these back to the TSF for recovery.
There are adjacent and downstream to the TSFs. Water samples are analysed bi-monthly by the onsite laboratory and monthly by an independent and accredited offsite laboratory. The test results of all groundwater quality are then periodically reviewed independently.
REVIEW AND ASSURANCE
To ensure facilities are performing as designed, we have several programmes for inspecting, auditing and reporting on the safety of our tailings facilities to ensure structural safety.
Operation of the TSFs is managed by a dedicated team of people who conduct daily performance monitoring including visual inspections to confirm the operational and structural integrity of the facility. This is supplemented by routine monitoring and inspections by the HSES department.
In 2022, we formally appointed a new EoR to advise and assist Sukari on matters of tailings management and governance in conformance with the GISTM. The EoR conducted their first quarterly safety inspection of the TSFs in Q4 2022.
The most recent independent Dam Safety Review Audit of our TSFs was performed in 2021, against the applicable design standards and the GISTM.
Under our Hazardous Substances Risk Standard, we adhere to industry good practice for the safe transportation, storage, use and disposal of cyanide – including strict adherence to the national regulatory requirements. We require that our cyanide suppliers are signatories to the International Cyanide Management Code (“ICMC”) and our site-level cyanide storage and use is managed under strict control with aspiration to align with the Code.
In 2022, an independent audit confirmed that Sukari rated either fully or substantially compliant against all criteria under the ICMC. The operation does not currently detoxify residual cyanide in the process effluent before discharge to the tailings storage facility, as the risk of exposure to wildlife is assessed to be low. Sukari maintains its permit for the import, storage and use of cyanide with the Egyptian regulatory body.
Mandatory cyanide awareness and emergency response training is undertaken at Sukari annually for employees who handle or are exposed to cyanide. Each area is regularly inspected for structural and operational integrity and equipped with the necessary resources to manage any cyanide-related incidents safely and rapidly.
Sukari has an emergency response team on site, which is trained and equipped to manage emergency situations, including potential incidents related to tailings management or hazardous chemical spills. Any incident involving cyanide is formally investigated.