Waste Management

As with any mining activity, New Gold’s operations generate process wastes. Process waste includes barren rock (not containing economically viable minerals), which must be removed and disposed in a safe manner in order to access the mineralized ore. It also includes the remnant heap leach piles that are left after metals have been extracted or the tailings that are left after the gold and copper mineral has been extracted. At New Gold we are committed to excellence in the management of tailings, heap leach and waste rock storage facilities and have adopted internationally recognized standards including the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining Tailings Management protocol.

We adopted our first Tailings, Heap Leach and Waste Rock Facilities Management Policy in 2014, which commits us to identify, assess and control risks associated with these facilities. This will ensure that we use sound engineering practice and company standards from design through construction, decommissioning and closure. We are also committed to training, regular inspection and monitoring, external auditing, and open and transparent communications with our communities of interest.

Following an incident involving a tailings dam in central British Columbia, our Canadian operations experienced a lot of interest in the way that we design, monitor and operate our tailings impoundment structures. We responded to community concerns and questions consistently and openly, holding tours of our New Afton facilities, providing presentations to First Nations and community groups, and answering questions regarding dam safety. We look to further constructive dialogue to ensure that our First Nations partners and local communities are confident that our facilities are designed, monitored and operated to a world-class standard.

“New Afton has done a good job of ensuring that the Stk’emlúpsemc te Secwépemc Nation – SSN – is involved in every step of this process and that our concerns, ideas and perspectives are acknowledged and implemented. The third-party review of the Dam Safety Inspection and the update to the Dam Breach Inundation Study are matters of a serious nature and matters upon which SSN places great importance. It is obvious that our partners at New Afton understand our concerns in this area and that they want our concerns and ideas heard.” Chief Shane Gottfriedson.

Performance in 2014

In 2014 we produced almost 62 million tonnes of waste rock and approximately 5 million tonnes of tailings. None of our operating leach piles – which are present at Cerro San Pedro and Mesquite mines – are ready for reclamation at this time.

At Mesquite, we expect the heap leach pad materials will be reused as landfill cover material by the nearby Los Angeles County Sanitation District disposal site once the mine is closed.

Process Waste

Waste Types 2012 2013 2014
Waste rock (000s tonnes)1 46,673 47,715 61,664
Leach piles – ready for reclamation (tonnes)
Tailings (000s tonnes)2 2,665 4,736 4,686

The waste rock reported by Peak Mines and New Afton refers only to materials brought to the surface.


New Afton commenced operations in mid-2012.

Recycling of non-process waste is an essential part of good environmental management, and is practised at all New Gold sites. Typically, recycled materials include used oils and lubricants, tires, scrap metal, plastics, aluminum, cardboard and batteries.

In 2013, we increased recycling significantly when compared to 2012 but in 2014 we did not match the outstanding results achieved in 2013. However, we maintained better performance than in 2012 for oils and lubricants as well as tires, and only slightly below 2012 performance for paper, plastic and metals.

We compost materials at Cerro San Pedro and continue to improve performance as we consistently increase composting at the site. In 2014, Cerro San Pedro composted 6.5 tonnes of material, a significant increase from 3.7 tonnes in 2013 and from about half a tonne in 2012.


Composted materials at Cerro San Pedro only.