Kinross has as one of its values ”people first”, so it has dedicated itself not only to comply with the determinations of environmental agencies, but also to bring clarification to the population. Below, check out some of the myths related to Mining x Arsenic, disseminated without any proof or basis, and the facts demonstrated by the studies that have been done in Paracatu.
The results of extensive scientific research involving years of data sampling by leading arsenic experts and diagnostic specialists in Brazil and abroad found low levels of arsenic exposure in Paracatu, with no evidence of adverse health effects related to arsenic. Kinross mining activities are considered of negligible collaboration for exposure to arsenic in general.
Arsenic occurs naturally in every earth’s crust. This is not to say that it is released or is capable of being absorbed by the human body. The largest source of arsenic exposure in Paracatu, as well as worldwide, comes from food, which is not usually considered a concern.
According to researchers from the University of Queensland and the Federal University of Minas Gerais, arsenic in air and soil dust represents a “very small” contribution to the total daily intake of arsenic in Paracatu (less than 5%).
During the mining process in Paracatu, almost all of the arsenic incorporated in the ore remains in a stable and unaltered mineral state (arsenopyrite). Gold is selectively leached from the minerals, without breaking the minerals themselves. According to well established mining practices, the remaining ore is stored separately in safe containment facilities designed to prevent the release of arsenic.
A study conducted in partnership with INCT Acqua (National Institute of Science and Technology in Mineral Resources, Water and Biodiversity) demonstrates local geology and mining activities do not have a significant impact on the total exposure to arsenic in the Paracatu region.
In addition, in 2012, a specific study carried out by the Minerals Center for Epidemiological and Environmental Studies (Cemea) indicated that the standard of cancer mortality observed in Paracatu does not differ from the state of Minas Gerais and two other cities analyzed: Unaí and João Pine.
The data analyzed also did not show an increase in the incidence of cancer deaths in Paracatu. Mortality rates for this group of diseases have been stable in recent years. The increase in the number of hospitalizations for treatment of this disease is particularly related to the increase in the offer of services and medical examinations in the municipality. Therefore, the presence of Kinross does not determine a differentiated pattern of cancer illness and death in Paracatu.
According to the study conducted by CETEM, the following aspects related to the theme were highlighted:
– Mortality rates for liver, lung, skin and bladder cancer in Paracatu residents in 2000 and 2010 (as well as in each year within this period) do not show differences that indicate a greater number of cases in Paracatu.
– The mean levels of arsenic in urine of the population sampled in Paracatu resulted between 1 and 5 μg / L of arsenic, a range of levels considered basal of exposure; (7.49 μg / L) and close to the levels observed in an urban Brazilian population with no history of exposure to arsenic in the State of São Paulo (4.00 μg / L). The levels of arsenic in hair are below the value for non exposed. Blood levels do not differ between areas, they are above non-exposed levels but less than 10 μg / L.
– The epidemiological study indicated that the population does not show mortality rates due to cancers associated with arsenic exposure higher than that observed for several Brazilian cities, regions and in the country, and no cases of dermatopathies related to exposure to arsenic.
The results of extensive scientific research involving years of data sampling by arsenic experts and diagnostic experts in Brazil and abroad are clear: there is no scientific evidence of adverse health effects related to arsenic in Paracatu, and mining activities of Kinross are an insignificant contributor in the global exposure to arsenic.
During the mining process, almost all the arsenic incorporated into the ore remains in stable and unaltered mineral form (arsenopyrite), and is not released. Gold is selectively leached from the minerals, without breaking the minerals themselves. According to well established mining practices, the remains of arsenic ore are stored separately in safe containment facilities designed to prevent the release of arsenic.
Native arsenopyrite, a naturally occurring element in Paracatu, is very different from arsenic trioxide, a very toxic byproduct produced when minerals containing arsenic in the ore are burned in specific kilns during a stage in the metallurgical process aiming at the production of sulfuric acid, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals. The Kinross mine in Paracatu does not produce this by-product because we do not need this step, called a roasting, for processing.
In addition, a number of dust control measures are employed, including spraying with water and polymers on the roads and replanting disturbed areas.
According to some 900 dust samples collected by researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the University of Queensland (INCT-Acqua), arsenic in air dust represents a “negligible” contribution to the global exposure to arsenic in Paracatu, equivalent to less than 5% of total intake.
Regular monitoring by the company, as well as an independent analysis by CETEM, found no groundwater contamination from Kinross’s operations.
The water quality immediately downstream from the waste facility complies with the regulations.
Two studies, one by the Minas Gerais Center for Epidemiological and Environmental Studies (CEMEA) in 2012 and another by CETEM in 2014, confirm that cancer rates in Paracatu are generally the same as those observed in Minas Gerais, typically lower in comparison to the rates general, and well below the rates in some other cities, such as Nova Lima.
When it comes to our employees, their families and the city in general, health and safety are our first priority.
By law, Kinross must perform mandatory testing in areas considered occupational hazards. However, Kinross has voluntarily extended the examination program to more than 1,700 employees. Last year, more than 1000 samples were analyzed. The results are communicated to employees when they apply or during their periodic medical examinations.
All tested employees are below the arsenic control levels.
Kinross does not use mercury in its production process. The company constantly invests in new technologies that seek the best practices in mining and ensure the performance of the activity in a conscious and responsible manner. The use of mercury was a practice adopted in the artisanal mining of the past.
The company adopts the most rigid and safe practices in the acquisition, storage, handling, use and disposal of cyanide, according to the International Cyanide Code and with the standards required by the Brazilian Army.
Kinross explosive dismounts did not harm the auditory system and developing countries by the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT) – which set the limit of 134 decibels – and have a reference to the values of the United States Health Organization, with limits from 120 to 140 decibels per day for detonations. The averages, value and average level were considered by Kinross in the standard established by the ABNT and are well below the limit stipulated by the association.