One of the Company’s goals is to implement best international and national practices in environmental management through innovative approaches to elimination or minimize any negative environmental impacts that may arise from our activities.
Duties of the environmental department include environmental management, monitoring and analyses, and public engagement.
Our Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Green Development on 13 April 2013. Environmental Management Plan, and Environmental Monitoring Program have since been submitted for approval.
Water for in the camp and in construction works comes from wells of nearby soums under contracts concluded with the owners and soum administration.
Water reconnaissance of license area is ongoing from the year 2007 and it is planned to cover water consumption needs of GHP from deep-seated aquifers of Erdenekhairkhan soum, detected by hydro-geological exploration. Hydro-geological survey and exploration report have been submitted to respective state environmental agencies and approval obtained on 19th April 2013.
Construction, mining and processing generates waste. Our philosophy is to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste wherever possible, before disposal in an environmentally acceptable manner. A number of initiatives are in place to manage wastes produced.
Drinking water at site comes in bottles from Ulaanbaatar and Durvuljin. Used bottles are sorted at source and stored into separate containers for transportation by road to Ulaanbaatar for recycling.
All paper and cardboard is segregated from general waste, and then pressed, baled and removed to Durvuljin soum where private entrepreneurs sell it to recyclers in Ulaanbaatar.
Used oil from heavy and light equipment is collected and stored in secure areas. Some is burned for heating of workshops during winter in heaters engineered for that purpose. Any waste oil not burned is transported to licensed recyclers in Ulaanbaatar. Used oil filters from machinery are drained of residual oil, and burned in a high-temperature incinerator on site. Remaining metal components of the filters are treated as scrap metals.
Scrap metal for which the company has no use is stored until they can be transported to licensed recyclers in Uliastai.
We minimize waste wood as much as possible by storing scrap for incidental use in construction. Wood scraps too small for reuse is cut into firewood for burning in the camp boiler house, or in the fire ovens used for heating of gers (the accommodation units where employees live).
Domestic wastes generated by camp and production activities are unsuitable for reuse or recycling. Our mine site is remote from modern waste disposal infrastructure. The Company in collaboration with the Durvuljin soum administration constructed a land fill for disposal of domestic and inert industrial wastes. The landfill is used both by the community and BA, while the Company provides earthmoving equipment to cover refuse as needed.
Waste water from kitchen and sewage water in the camp accommodations, offices and ablution blocks is cleansed in a sewage treatment plant. Processed water from the plant is stored in two plastic lined ponds, from where it either evaporates or is used for watering plants, and for controlling dust on roads.
Sand and dust storms are common in Zavkhan province, particularly during windy spring and autumn seasons. Land clearing and earth moving for with construction and mining can add to this problem. To avoid making dust, the Company limits areas of land cleared. We also control vehicle traffic off roads to avoid damaging plants and the soil. As soon as disturbed areas are no longer in use they are re-vegetated.
Earthmoving equipment and vehicles travelling on unsealed roads also generate dust during some seasons of the year, so we water unsealed surfaces. We use commercially available dust suppressants to reduce the amount of water required to control dust and increase the effectiveness of dust control on unsealed roads.
Land Clearing and Reclamation
Industrial activity necessitates land clearing for erection of buildings and other infrastructure facilities. 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.
Topsoil is stripped in accordance with Mongolian environmental standards and vegetation zones regulations. Soil is stored in protected stockpiles, segregated in accordance with its origins and intended use in future reclamation.
In addition, company standard operating procedures (SOP) are in place to ensure appropriate methods of soil stripping and methodologies of its handling, storage, and eventual reuse.
BA immediately reclaims disturbed land that is no longer used for mining or construction. In 2013 we planted more than two hectares of land around the accommodation camp and adjoining locations. Plants included trees from the local area, perennial grasses and legumes In accordance with standard MNS5918:2008. As construction finishes and mining commences we will reclaim concurrently rather than postponing such activities to the end of the project.
In 2013 the Environment Department collected seeds from local plant species; that will be germinated in the Department’s greenhouses for planting stock to be used in the 2014 planting season. In addition we are also testing non-local Mongolian species such as elms, birch and pine that are useful and grow in similar ecosystems.
Engineered drains have been constructed to carry water that would otherwise cause soil erosion during heavy rainfall, and a number of check dams constructed across the site.
Waste Rock Management
Sulfide contained in the undergrounds rocks exposed to the surface can produce acid under the influence of atmospheric oxygen and water, but geological work to date suggests that the occurrence of sulfide is limited at the project.
BA’s environment, geology and operation departments have sampled and analyzed potentially acid forming rocks, and 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 the waste rock management will continue throughout life of mine.
Chemicals substances are used in a variety of ways in mining operations like cleaning of the equipment or extracting of gold from crushed rocks. BAE has in place plans for safe and efficient use of chemicals and has obtained government permits for chemical usage.
BA monitors water levels and quality of all the aquifers from which water is extracted for construction, mining and processing purposes. A program to monitor water quality in the Zavkhan River 22 km south of the site has also been instigated.
A network of dust monitoring stations has been placed around the mining and processing operation areas for measurement of coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) dust particle pollution of the air like suspended particulates and respirable dust particles in the summer of 2013.
Weather monitoring station equipment was purchased from the United States, and has been installed at the mine.
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.
BAE shares environmental information with its stakeholders. We frequently meet soum officials, and have conducted training programs for local teachers and pupils to increase their general knowledge of mining and environment.
Specific awareness programs included:
Company staff joined children of the school at Durvuljin in autumn to plant trees for beautification of the school grounds.
In October 2013 we held an information day for interested citizens from Durvuljin and Erdenekhairkhan soums to brief our external stakeholders about the activities of the Environment Department. Thirty people attended, including elected officials, regulators, members of the Citizens’ Representative Committees, and the interested public.