Bayan Airag Exploration aims to implement best international and national practices in environmental management through innovative approaches to minimize negative environmental impact from our activities.
Duties of the environmental department include environmental management, monitoring, analyzing and reporting, and public engagement.
Our Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development on 2013 and 2018. Environmental Management Plans and Environmental Monitoring Programs are updated and submitted annually to the Ministry for approval.
Furthermore, environmental audit was carried out by licensed companies. Findings were submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Green Development on 2015 and 2017 in accordance with relevant legislations.
Extensive baseline studies were carried out by environmental experts across the Bayan Airag Exploration lease area during preparation of the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment. Their findings on flora, fauna and heritage issues were presented as maps and are consulted before any land disturbance occurs.
Bayan Airag started concurrent reclamation in 2013 of disturbed areas no longer being used for construction or operational purposes. Plant species included trees from the local area, perennial grasses and legumes as required by national standard MNS5918:2008.
Since 2015, we have experimented innovative reclamation techniques to conserve water and soil, and prolong the growing season. We are now working with academic researchers to quantify the gains from these techniques.
Waste Rock Management
Bayan Airag Explorations’ environment, geology and operation departments have sampled and analyzed potentially acid forming rocks. We have developed methodologies for identifying them in the field, and managing their disposal in waste rock stockpiles to prevent environmental damage.
Analytical work and verification of the effectiveness of waste rock management will continue throughout life of mine.
Chemical risk management
Chemicals substances are used in variety of ways in mining operations like extracting gold from crushed rocks and cleaning of the equipment.
Since September 2014, Bayan Airag Exploration started using cyanide to process gold. All stages of cyanide transportation, storage and consumption are permitted in accordance with applicable laws. Government agencies inspect Bayan Airag mine and processing facility routinely. Staff are trained how to use cyanide safely and are provided with personal protective equipment when working in cyanide used areas. Cyanide gas detectors and audible alarms are installed in areas where cyanide is used, and personnel are trained in emergency response.
Our philosophy is to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste wherever possible, before disposing in an environmentally acceptable manner. A number of initiatives are in place to manage wastes produced.
Used bottles are sorted at source and stored into separate containers for transportation by road to Ulaanbaatar for recycling. All papers and cardboards are segregated from general waste, then pressed, baled and removed to Durvuljin soum.
Used oil from mobile equipment is collected and trucked to licensed oil recyclers in Ulaanbaatar. Used oil filters from machinery are drained of residual oil, then burned in a high-temperature incinerator on site. Remaining metal components of the filters are treated as scrap metals. Non-used scrap metals are stored until they can be transported to licensed recycling company in Uliastai.
Some domestic wastes generated by camp and production activities are unsuitable for reuse or recycling. The mine site is remote from modern waste disposal infrastructure. Therefore, the Company has constructed a land fill for disposal of domestic and inert industrial wastes in collaboration with Durvuljin soum administration. The landfill is used by Durvuljin soum community and Bayan Airag mine.
Waste water from kitchen, sewage water from camp accommodation, offices and ablution block is purified in sewage treatment plant. Treatment comprises sand filter, aerobic bacterial digestion and treatment with ultraviolet light for controlling bacteria. Samples of treated water are collected and sent to the laboratory of the SSIA in Uliastai to verify that the treatment is effective.
Processed water is stored in two plastic lined lagoons. Its used for watering plants in reclaimed areas and for controlling dust on roads.
From 2014 Mongolian Environmental Laws require companies to measure impacts of their operations on biodiversity and ecosystem function, and compensate for net losses through conservation or restoration of similar areas.
Bayan Airag Exploration operates in rangelands used for grazing of livestock. In collaboration with national experts and foreign partners, we identified areas of equivalent ecosystem function in which to implement our biodiversity offset programs.
An area approximately 20 kilometers south west of the mine was selected. In an area of approximately 11000 hectares we worked with pasture user groups and local authorities to ensure sustainable livestock rotation and grazing land recovery.
The primary elements of our program are:
- Working with herders to develop and implement functioning rotational plans for seasonal livestock rotation
- Improving livestock health by facilitating access to quality veterinary services and products
- Facilitating accreditation under the Sustainable Fibre Alliance for Pasture User Groups with whom we collaborate
In addition to that, we continue to explore mechanisms for improving livestock quality and access to high value markets for herders.
Additional Conservation Activities of our program include:
- Horticultural practices for a large natural resource of Sea buckthorn fruits along the Zavkhan River
- Reintroduction of marmots to the grazing area where these have previously been hunted to local extinction
Our stakeholders in the program include:
- Green Gold funded by the Swiss Development Agency
- V.E.T Net veterinary NGO
- United Nations Development Programme
- The Sustainable Fibre Alliance (UK)
- The Nature Conservancy NGO
- Mercy Corps
In collaboration with our partners we will continue to explore efficiencies for environmental and socio-economic outcomes from this program.
Bayan Airag monitors water levels and quality of all the aquifers from which water is extracted for domestic, mining and processing purposes. Ground water is monitored intensively around the mine operational area, and results are reported to the Mongolian regulatory authorities.
A program to monitor water quality in the Zavkhan River 22 km south of the site is also in place.
The Environment Department measure dust using four methods. We operate a network of high-volume dust samplers for 24 hours every six days to sample and determine total dust in the atmosphere for the period. For occupational health purposes we measure the respirable dust component, which is less than 10 microns in diameter, also using a high-volume sampler.
We have small portable dust samplers to check shorter duration incidents. These high-volume devices measure total dust, and are used for three-hour sampling periods.
The last method of dust collection is a system of nine gravimetric samplers placed around the site and in off-site locations to measure how much dust falls on the ground over a 30-day period.
Weather monitoring station equipment has been installed at the mine, and data are collected daily for reporting to the Operations Department. Data trends are analyzed and used by Bayan Airag engineers for planning purposes.
Prior to any land disturbance taking place in the project area, soil samples are taken for monitoring and analyzing. As stated in Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment report sampling, monitoring, and analysis of soil will continue throughout the lifetime of the mining project.
Fauna and Flora
Extensive baseline studies on fauna and flora were integral parts of detailed environmental impact assessment report recently approved by the Mongolian Government. Commitments made in the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment report are the basis for the annual Environmental Management Plans submitted to the government.
At present we use five main methods to keep birds and process water apart:
- Gas Cannons - Propane gas cannons are harmless to birds, but they emit a loud explosion when triggered
- Sonic and ultra-sonic deterrents - high-pitch frequency of sound inaudible to humans, or recorded sounds of birds of prey
- Plastic tape - Through experimentation we discovered that birds are reluctant to enter areas where plastic tapes are flapping in the wind
- Sentries - At times when large groups of migratory birds pass over the mine site, human sentries are posted at areas where birds could potentially try to drink process water
Bayan Airag shares environmental information with its stakeholders, both external and internal. We frequently meet local officials, and have conducted training programs for local teachers and pupils to increase their general knowledge of mining and environment.
Specific awareness programs included:
- Waste management
- Water and the environment protection
- Monitoring practices
- Dust control
- Art and competitions with environmental themes
Company staff joined school children from Durvuljin and Erdenekhairkhan soums in autumn to plant trees at the school garden.
The environment department publishes monthly fact sheet about important environmental actions and activities.