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.

Our entire Ada Tepe gold mine lies within the footprint of a protected area known as the Natura 2000. This area is home to many amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. Because of this, the Ministry of Environment required 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 the two Natura 2000. Supplementary field surveys were undertaken by a team of experts. The Compatibility Assessment revealed that the project could impact a number of protected habitat types and species.

After further consultation, studies and technology reviews, a revised investment proposal was presented. It proposed 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. The end product from the current circuit is gold concentrate which is 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.

Biodiversity

The impact of our operations 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. Forest fruit vegetation was planted at nine 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 in partnership with the Krumovgrad municipality, State forestry department, experts from Bulgarian herpetological 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.

For more details of this project see a video here.

Fine Particulate Matter And Deposited Dust Monitoring

As part of the environment monitoring plan and the air quality and dust management plan, we 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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