Authors: Karajeh, I

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Karajeh, I 2023, 'The new norm for gold miners and how change in mine waste management could help', in GW Wilson, NA Beier, DC Sego, AB Fourie & D Reid (eds), Paste 2023: 25th International Conference on Paste, Thickened and Filtered Tailings, University of Alberta, Edmonton, and Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 799-811,

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The gold mining industry has been out of favour with institutional investors in the last decade as major mergers, acquisitions and other shapes of restructuring took place right at the height of the commodity cycle, leaving the gold mining companies laden with debt. At the same time, institutional investors have observed a new trend in heightened emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) related matters. As institutional investors have a lot of influence on gold mining companies through their significant majority shareholding positions, alignment with their ESG investment criteria is critical to gold mining companies for financial sustainability. This paper explores the ways alternative mine tailings management practices could help gold miners align with institutional investors’ ESG criteria. Maximising the application of thickened tailings, paste, filtered tailings, and underground and open pit backfill directly translates into reductions in land use and hazardous waste, increased water efficiency, and potential increases in energy efficiency; hence, reduced GHG emissions. A reduced waste footprint has indirect benefits related to other ESG aspects like biodiversity and potential social impact. The paper provides a qualitative to semi-quantitative assessment of the impact on lifecycle return on investment in these seemingly more elaborate and costly mine waste management approaches by improving ESG scores and enhancing the chances for access to more favoured and affordable financing.

Keywords: ESG, water use, land use, mine tailings

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