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Environmental responsibility in Bulgaria

Guided by the principle of sustainability and acknowledging the limited life of the mine, Dundee Precious Metals Chelopech developed a comprehensive programme ensuring environmental protection for water, air, soil, biodiversity, and reducing the use of energy. Investment and improved management resulted in large-scale innovations in production and significant benefits to the environment.

Guided by the principle of sustainability and acknowledging the limited life of the mine, Dundee Precious Metals Krumovgrad has developed a comprehensive programme ensuring environmental protection for water, air, soil, biodiversity, and reducing the use of energy. Investment and improved management resulted in large-scale innovations to significantly benefit the environment.

Ada Tepe Gold Mine – an EU case study on the article 6.3 permit procedure under the habitats directive – best practice

Our entire Ada Tepe gold mine lies within the footprint of Natura 2000 protected site known as BG 0001032 Rhodopes East under European Council Directive 92/43 on the Conservation of Natural Habitats of Wild Fauna and Flora. This area is home to many amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates, including Testudo graeca, and Testudo hermanni. The nearby river Krumovitsa is home to bird species, including the black stork Ciconia nigra, booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus and olive-tree warbler Hippolais olivetorum. Because the project is in a Natura 2000 site, the Ministry of Environment required the company to carry out an appropriate Compatibility Assessment (CA) in accordance with article 6.3 of the European Union Habitats Directive.

Consultants carried out a detailed study of all existing publications on the flora and fauna of the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and on the two Natura 2000 sites in particular. Supplementary field surveys were undertaken by a team of experts. During the assessment all guidelines and documents related to Natura 2000 were taken into consideration, including the EC guidelines “Non-energy mineral extraction and Natura 2000”.

The Compatibility Assessment revealed that the project could impact a number of protected habitat types and species. After further consultation, and following further field studies and technology reviews, a revised investment proposal was presented. It involved the same open pit on Ada Tepe hill and a system for crushing and grinding the ore but offered an alternative approach to disposing of the mine waste material. A new form of semi-dry technology, allowing progressive rehabilitation, was employed at the Integrated mine waste facility and gold extraction involved the traditional flotation circuit. The end product is gold concentrate which would be processed away from the site. The total area of the project was reduced to 85 ha (a reduction by 1/3 from the original proposal). The revised project, together with the impact statements, was put out to public consultation and public hearings were held with the local community and NGOs in 2010.

The assessment concluded that, except for the open pit for which there is no alternative, the locations and types of installations sufficiently reduced the negative effects on the Natura 2000 site and its habitats and species to an insignificant level. The CA concluded that, provided certain conditions were met during the construction and operation of the pit, the revised project could be approved. Impact of the project will be monitored according to a biodiversity monitoring plan which started before the construction phase and will run for the life of mine and in the post closure period. During 2012 and 2013, as part of species protection actions, protected tortoises were resettled as a protection measure. Impacted area was fenced to prevent tortoises from returning.

The mine site was fenced off and 522 species were resettled outside of the fence.. Forest fruit vegetation was planted at 9 locations to provide nourishment to the relocated tortoises. A total of 2 060 individual tortoises were permanently marked and included in a database to allow tracking. The project was initiated and implemented by the Environmental department of the Company in partnership with the Krumovgrad municipality, State forestry department, experts from Bulgarian herpoethological association, biologists, NGO’s and volunteers. All completed activities helped the Company develop a comprehensive methodology for tortoise relocation from a construction site, as a good practice which can be applied elsewhere. The tortoise project has inspired our employees to be more aware of conservation, and many have taken part in volunteer activities in their free time.

Biodiversity

In 2015, we developed a project to implement the measures in the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Two protected tortoise species (Hermann's tortoise and the Mediterranean spur thigh tortoise), the Jersey Tiger moth, the yellow-bellied toad and a few bat species were monitored as part of the BAP and the animal species monitoring plan. In the process of developing the project for the implementation of the measures under the BAP, the habitats on the future mine site (part of the Rhodopes-east protected site) were studied exhaustively with the aim to improve them, particularly the habitats of the two protected tortoise species. BAP also covered activities to promote the importance of protecting endangered species and to fight poaching.

Monitoring Of Fine Particulate Matter And Deposited Dust

In 2015, Dundee Precious Metals as part of the environment monitoring plan and the air quality and dust management plan, purchased and commissioned three dust monitors for airborne fine particulate matter and 7 dust deposition gauges. The instruments collect data about the air quality and the background levels fine particulate matter in the air. Realtime data from these monitors is available at http://krumovgrad.webnoise.eu/index.php.


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