Protecting Workers from Exposures to Cyanide

Cyanide Management Case Study

When the International Cyanide Management Code (the Cyanide Code) was implemented in 2005, the International Cyanide Management Institute (ICMI) was formed to administer the Cyanide Code through a multi-stakeholder Board of Directors. The ICMI’s Industry Advisory Group (IAG) was established to provide a forum for participating signatory gold companies and cyanide producers to advance the education, communication and discussion about the Cyanide Code. In 2018, Scott Miller, Newmont’s Group Executive of Environment, was elected Chair of the IAG.

An important body of work the IAG embarked on in 2018 was examining how a critical control risk management approach can be applied to protecting workers who transport cyanide or work at operations that use cyanide.

Cyanide in any form can be hazardous to human health and the environment. When cyanide is delivered to a mine site that uses a cyanide solution in the processing phase, it is in a higher concentration, and in this form, it is even more dangerous.

An IAG working group, composed of representatives from eight signatory gold mining companies and cyanide producers, held a workshop at Newmont’s office where they conducted a bow-tie risk analysis and identified the top six critical controls to prevent a catastrophic reagent-grade cyanide spill.

A set of verifications for each critical control – which include the questions one must ask – was developed to ensure the control is in place and effective.

Following the workshop, we piloted the critical controls at our Yanacocha operation in Peru, and another working group participant conducted a similar pilot. The pilot tested the applicability, ease of use and verification process. Findings from the pilot were shared with the IAG, including the recommendation to add a critical control on non-destructive testing and improvements to the verification process.

In 2019, we plan to implement the critical controls at all our sites. To share the learnings more broadly, once all pilots are completed, the ICMI will publish the critical controls study, and the IAG and ICMI will work together to determine if there should be any changes to the Cyanide Code.

The IAG will also begin looking at opportunities to apply the critical control risk management approach to other catastrophic risks, such as spills and/or leaks that occur offsite.