The first milestone under Newmont’s newly formed partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was an independent review of our Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation Program (SECP) in Nevada. In mid-2018, an IUCN team visited Nevada to observe the SECP, site impacts, and related restoration and offset activities and to provide recommendations for achieving our stated goal of no net loss of key biodiversity values (KBVs), and net gains where possible.
During the review, the team visited sites, including two of Newmont’s ranch properties within the sagebrush ecosystem, reviewed numerous documents, and interviewed those at Newmont responsible for implementing biodiversity practices on the ground.
Among the IUCN’s top recommendations:
- Clarify Newmont’s conservation management framework by incorporating the SECP’s Conservation Framework Agreement – which Newmont, the State of Nevada and the U.S. Department of the Interior established in 2016 to govern the management of sagebrush habitat on Company-owned land in Nevada – into Newmont’s Biodiversity Management Standard;
- Strengthen the relationship between Elko Land and Livestock Company (ELLCo) (the Newmont subsidiary that owns and operates more than 1.6 million acres of rangeland) and Newmont’s mining operations to increase awareness about the important role ELLCo plays in supporting Newmont’s environmental and social commitments; and
- Continue ELLCo’s testing of its rangeland management approach – including planned and prescribed cattle grazing, rangeland seeding and other efforts to manage cheatgrass and promote deep-rooted perennial species – and develop a stronger comparative framework that contrasts the effectiveness of ELLCo’s approach with less effective models (including those on publicly managed land) that are impeding landscape-scale solutions.
The team also reviewed issues around water management and conservation efforts related to the relict dace – a small, minnow-like fish that inhabits the Johnson Springs Wetland Complex adjacent to our Long Canyon mine. The IUCN’s recommendations included establishing a redundant population of relict dace in aquariums or a hatchery as a backup to the wild populations. The team noted that the successful restoration of the Maggie Creek Basin and Lahontan cutthroat habitat demonstrates Newmont’s ability to restore wetlands, and these best practices could be applied to the conservation of the relict dace.
Newmont is working to incorporate the IUCN’s recommendations into the ongoing management of Newmont’s operations and properties not just in Nevada, but also at all our operations. To more broadly share lessons learned in the practical application of the mitigation hierarchy and contribute to a growing body of research in this important conservation area, the review was published, and the IUCN and Newmont will also share key learnings of the review at the 2019 International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) annual conference.