Water Management

Water management is a prime concern for any mining or processing operation and for its neighbours. Our objective at every New Gold operation is to minimize water use through recycling and reuse wherever possible and through applying efficient designs and technologies.

Most of the water used in our sites is associated with the processing of ore. We also require water for dust control on mine haul roads and use dust suppressants to minimize evaporative loss. All process water used at our mine sites is contained in a closed circuit, with only evaporation allowing water to leave the cycle. Some water is incorporated in the tailings slurry as well; this is maintained within the lined tailings management facility. No process water discharges to the surrounding environment.

At New Gold we make significant efforts to minimize water consumption. For example, Peak uses water-efficient “thickened tailings”, which use much less water than traditional lower density tailings deposition. At Mesquite and Cerro San Pedro, the process solution is recycled and reused on the heap leach pads. At New Afton and Peak, water is recycled through the tailings facility and returned for use in processing.

At all of our mining operations, rainwater is scarce. With the exception of New Afton, Rainy River and Blackwater, which source water from local surface water supplies, New Gold sites source their water from groundwater wells or pipe water over long distances from water utilities. All sites source water in compliance with the appropriate regulatory requirements; this provides safeguards so that other water users are not negatively impacted. Our monitoring programs are designed to protect surface and groundwater and we are constantly vigilant to respond to changes in water quality in the vicinity of our operations.

Performance in 2014

We continue to seek opportunities to reduce our raw water consumption and increase water reuse where possible. In 2014 we withdrew about 5.9 million cubic metres of raw water from surface, groundwater and water utilities1 – a 6% reduction from 2013. We also used approximately 374,520 cubic metres of rainwater. Across our sites, approximately 51.5 million cubic metres of water were reused or recycled (about 9% increase in volume from 2013). The ratio of raw water used to process ore2 (cubic metres of water used per tonnes of ore processed) in 2014 was similar to 2013.


Considers water extracted from surface, groundwater and water utilities at our operating mines only, for all purposes including dust control and cleaning activities. Does not include rainwater or potable water provided at sites. Total ore processed and ore to leach pads in 2014 was approximately 29.7 million tonnes.


Includes approximately 1.2 million cubic metres of surface water (21%), 3.9 million cubic metres of groundwater (65%) and 0.8 million cubic metres from water utilities (14%). Does not include rainwater or potable water consumed at sites.

In 2014 we adopted the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard at our New Afton Mine as a pilot program, on behalf of the Mining Association of Canada. The AWS Standard is a global standard that outlines what is expected of companies seeking to adopt responsible water stewardship practices. While New Gold has adopted the standard internally, we will be sharing learning experiences with our industry peers through this initiative.