At New Gold, we take active measures to protect and support at-risk species and implement reclamation and conservation efforts, often through trusted partners such as local universities and environmental non-governmental organizations. We have implemented the TSM Biodiversity Management Protocol, which requires the establishment of Biodiversity Management Plans across our operations.
Where we have identified at-risk species at our sites, we have put management plans and/or procedures in place to ensure adequate management of these species. A list of at-risk species at our operations and projects is available in the Appendix.
Our two development projects in Canada – Rainy River and Blackwater – are in proximity to high biodiversity value areas. We have taken significant steps to ensure high environmental standards and best practices to conserve or enhance biodiversity where we operate as well as on adjacent lands that are undisturbed by our mining operations.
The Rainy River project covers 18,658 hectares (187 km2) in Northwestern Ontario, in an area that has historically seen logging and agricultural activities as well as ongoing mineral exploration, with abandoned farmlands returning to scrub and successional forest communities. The project’s footprint has been designed to minimize disturbed areas; detailed environmental baseline studies have been carried out; and all proposed site works are pre-screened to ensure that migratory birds, at-risk species and cultural heritage values, as well as other environmental factors such as water quality, are considered and protected.
Three bird species in the area of the Rainy River project are listed as threatened by Canadian authorities; a Species at Risk Management Plan has been developed in compliance with the Endangered Species Act permit granted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which defines and describes the steps that New Gold takes to ensure that listed species benefit overall.
The Blackwater project covers approximately 105,300 hectares (1,053 km2) in central British Columbia. The exploration area is adjacent to a provincial Ungulate Winter Range (UWR) for the Northern Caribou. New Gold modified the original exploration program to protect the adjacent UWR and established a Northern Caribou Management Plan to minimize disturbance and displacement of Northern Caribou due to mineral exploration and predator and human access.
The Blackwater project is also near a population of White Bark Pine trees listed on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Species at Risk Act. We have established a White Bark Pine management plan to minimize impacts to this species, which covers approximately 1,000 hectares around Mount Davidson. This plan includes seed collection and propagation trials with a view to replicate the species in future mine reclamation. Seven other federally listed species have been identified as occurring or as potentially occurring in the Blackwater project area. Six are bird species and one is an amphibian species. While the presence of all of these species has not been confirmed, many are associated with water bodies that are protected by stringent environmental management plans.
New Afton completed a project to provide habitat for bats in an unused bunker. A “bat gate” has been installed to allow bats to enter but limit predator or human access to the artificial cave. The entire structure has been covered with overburden to insulate the cave from cold winters. It is planned that the habitat will become the focus of future studies by university students, providing unique education experiences and valuable information on the success of the project.
New Gold has also supported conservation efforts through donations to environmental organizations. We have provided donations to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to assist in its work to maintain Canada’s biodiversity in areas where this may be under threat, such as the interior grasslands of British Columbia. New Afton also financially supports Earth Rangers in their promotion of conservation activities in elementary schools around Kamloops.