Environment

Valuing the dignity of people, showing respect and care, being open and earning trust are very important to us.

This means we must develop the mineral resources our society needs in a manner that protects the environment, responsibly managing and mitigating environmental risks. Our Environmental Health and Safety Policy states our commitment to explore, mine and process metals in an environmentally responsible manner, and to continually measure and improve our systems and performance. We comply with all laws and regulations in each jurisdiction where we operate, and our operating sites are required to maintain (or achieve within two years of commencing production) an environmental management system that is certified to the ISO 14001 international standard.

As members of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), we apply the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) environmental protocols and frameworks at our operations in Canada and voluntarily do so at operations outside of Canada. We also maintain and continuously evaluate and update our own plans and internal standards in critical areas related to environmental stewardship, including:

Lizards hatched at our nursery in Peru our returned to the wild to help sustain biodiversity.

Land and Biodiversity

Our Biodiversity Conservation Standard requires each site to identify environmental conditions – such as threatened and endangered species, protected areas and critical habitat – and the potential impacts Hudbay’s activities may have on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Site-specific biodiversity and ecosystem services management plans must apply the following four sequential key steps of the mitigation hierarchy:

  1. Avoid impacts by locating facilities and infrastructure away from natural and critical habitats
  2. Minimize impacts through the use of appropriate management systems, mine designs and operating plans that limit land disturbance throughout the mine life
  3. Restore ecosystems by progressively rehabilitating affected areas during operations and at closure with a goal of mitigating the impact over time through preservation or maintenance
  4. Offset residual impacts through programs to compensate for biodiversity losses by enhancing ecosystems in nearby areas.

Our standard aligns to and supports our implementation of the TSM Biodiversity Conservation Management framework and protocol and the IFC Ecosystem Service Performance Standard.

Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas

In alignment with the TSM Energy and GHG Emission Management protocol, we have processes and systems in place to manage our energy use and GHG emissions. We annually document our performance in the TSM Progress Report and also disclose our global GHG emissions data and performance to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project).

Air

None of Hudbay’s operations have major point source emissions. Our primary air emissions are the result of dust and fuel emissions generated by activities that include blasting, excavating ore and vehicles travelling on unpaved roads.

To ensure the air quality on and near our sites is safe, we implement dust management plans, conduct monitoring and report our air emissions to ensure full compliance with air quality laws and regulations in the countries where we operate.

A Hudbay employee tests discharge water from one of our operation to ensure it meets regulated standards for quality.

Water

Water is fundamental for healthy communities and ecosystems. It is also essential to our operations. Mindful of both imperatives, we strive to continuously improve our water management approach, apply best practices and reduce our impact on water resources.

Our site-specific water management plans address the unique water needs and challenges at each operation and assess water quality, quantity, availability and the needs of local communities. These plans are developed during the feasibility stage as part of a site’s environmental impact studies and are constantly reviewed and updated to ensure water risks and considerations are assessed throughout the mine lifecycle. Because our current operations are not located in water-stressed areas, these sites focus their water management approach on water discharge quality. Rosemont is located in an arid region and its design and operating plans have a correspondingly strong focus on water conservation.

In 2018, the Mining Association of Canada enhanced the TSM Water Stewardship Policy Framework by incorporating the framework into a new Water Stewardship Protocol that includes four performance indicators – water governance, operational water management, watershed-scale planning, and water reporting and performance indicators. As a member of the Association, we will implement the updated protocol over the next several years and publicly report against the protocol beginning in 2021.

In addition, since 2010, we have disclosed our water management performance in CDP’s annual Global Water Report.

Tailings ponds are routinely checked to ensure their integrity and monitor their impact on the local environment.

Waste and Tailings

Mining and ore processing activities produce waste by-products including waste rock (overburden that has no economic value) and tailings (the material that remains after the minerals have been extracted from the crushed ore).

All Hudbay operations have plans in place to reduce, reuse, recycle and responsibly dispose of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, with a particular focus on managing waste rock and tailings. (A more detailed discussion on tailings management is included in the Tailings Stewardship section of our Integrated Annual and CSR Report.)

Sites must manage waste rock in accordance with environmental regulations and industry standards and in a manner that minimizes the potential for acid rock drainage, which is caused by a chemical reaction when certain minerals in some types of rock are exposed to air and water. Some waste rock and tailings may be classified as potentially acid generating (PAG). To minimize and mitigate the impact of PAG-classified material, wherever possible we use PAG-classified waste rock to fill voids in underground operations or dispose of its facilities engineered to prevent acidic runoff. We use non-PAG waste rock for a variety of purposes, including building tailings containment structures, as backfill for open pits, site rehabilitation and also to fill underground voids.

Details on our tailings facilities are available in our Mine Tailings Disclosure Table.

Towards Sustainable Mining Protocol

As a member of the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), Hudbay follows the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program and is implementing an updated tailings management protocol consistent with TSM’s updated protocol at all of our operations. Our protocol builds on a continual improvement process for tailings management to achieve the goal of zero catastrophic failures of tailings facilities and no significant adverse effects on human health or the environment. The protocol emphasizes management processes, senior executive oversight, and expert third-party reviews that ensure appropriate technical standards of construction, maintenance, and operation.

Tailings Governance Charter

In 2018, we developed a Tailings Governance Charter to further strengthen our internal governance processes related to tailings management, to ensure the appropriate processes are in place and that all of our tailings facilities are constructed and operated in a manner that protects public health and safety. At present Hudbay has seven tailings and water retainment structures/facilities — four in Manitoba and three in Peru. These are managed in accordance with the requirements of the Charter. The reviews and inspections in 2018 found all facilities and structures were in compliance with our standards and best practices.

The Manitoba and Peru business units maintained their TSM ratings (AA and A, respectively) across all the tailings management indicators in the 2018 TSM Progress Report. Both business units are updating their tailings management processes in preparation for reporting against the new requirements in the updated protocol.

Rosemont Project

At our Rosemont project in Arizona, we plan to use an alternative method of tailings disposal called dry-stack or filtered tailings. This method — which involves dewatering tailings prior to placing them in a storage facility — offers numerous advantages over other tailings storage options, provided climatic conditions support the technology. These include reduced requirements for water consumption and land and the ability to conduct concurrent reclamation. Dry-stack also nearly eliminates the risk of groundwater contamination and catastrophic tailings dam breaches.

Rosemont’s state-of-the-art dry-stack tailings facility will be one of the largest in the world, requiring half the water for twice the production, thereby establishing new standards for responsible mining.

Closure and Reclamation

We believe successful mine closure begins during the design phase of a project’s development and continues throughout the mine’s lifecycle.

In alignment with TSM’s Mine Closure Framework, our closure plans include consultation and engagement with stakeholders – in particular, the communities closest to our mines – to collaborate on closure and reclamation objectives and work together on long-term economic development strategies and plans that mitigate the environmental, social and economic impacts of closure. We rehabilitate the former mine site to an agreed-upon beneficial post-mining use that is as close as practical to its pre-use condition.

Our closure plans include identifying opportunities to conduct progressive rehabilitation once the areas are no longer needed for mining. Post-closure activities include maintenance and monitoring to ensure closure objectives are being or have been met.