We recognize that our operations have potential significant environmental impacts, including land use changes. Such impacts are avoided, minimized and mitigated by the implementation of our Environmental Management Plans, and will be offset by our long-term environmental planning, including the use of biodiversity offsets, as well as increased economic opportunities and development in the areas of infrastructure, education, and micro-enterprise.
In line with the precautionary approach to risk management, we conduct environmental and social impact assessments, engage with our stakeholders, perform monitoring of environmental components, and apply continuous improvement and adaptive management practices to our activities. We are committed to always meet or exceed regulatory requirements, and good international gold mining practices.
La Zarza concession, which hosts the Fruta del Norte deposit, is located in the Cordillera del Condor mountain range. The Fruta Del Norte Project is being developed as an underground mining operation, which will reduce the Project’s physical surface footprint. As part of the Project’s development, we conducted a detailed environmental and social impact assessment, which was approved by Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment in October 2016.
As part of its biological baseline studies, the Company has documented species falling in the following categories: endangered, vulnerable, near-threatened species and IUCN’s (international union for conservation of nature) least concern category. We have developed a rescue and relocation plan for biotic species to be applied before, during and after the construction activities, which describes the management of endangered and vulnerable species. We also conduct semi-annual monitoring of flora and fauna using external experts associated with the Catholic University of Ecuador, UTPL, and the National Polytechnical School. The Company is also working with Conservation International Ecuador on the design of a biodiversity conservation program for the Fruta del Norte Project.
The El Zarza Wildlife Refuge and Cordillera del Cóndor Protected Forest are outside of the Project area and to the west of Lundin Gold’s concessions. None of the Company’s activities are planned within these areas.
We have completed an environmental and social impact assessment for the Fruta del Norte Project and plans to identify, avoid, reduce, mitigate, and control our impacts, including those related to water. These studies and plans considered the full mining life cycle of the Project. More information about Lundin Gold’s water management is available in the company’s most recent sustainability report.