The Company is focused on developing its own standard management systems for safety, environment and social responsibility. In 2013, we completed the safety management system and standards implementation company-wide. As well, New Gold finalized its environmental and community engagement and development standards, and implementation is underway.
Health and Safety
In the case of safety standards, New Gold's focus is on the practices and procedures that prevent accidents in the first place, and measuring employee performance in meeting these leading indicators. We completed reviews of the safety systems on all operations during 2013.
New Gold's operations all had strong safety records in 2013, with four sites recording zero lost-time injuries (LTIs). These were our New Afton and Mesquite mines and Blackwater and Rainy River projects. Our other sites achieved LTI rates significantly below industry averages, contributing to New Gold's overall exemplary performance in ensuring the safety of our employees.
Highlights for the year: New Afton completed the audit for the Work Safe Certificate of recognition for safety system excellence. New Afton was also the champion in a provincial underground mine rescue competition.
Health and Safety
Unbeatable record of zero Lost-Time Injuries earns Mesquite Mine the President’s LTI Award.
We work to protect our endangered species wherever we operate and turn our commitments into concrete achievements.
Our Company applies best practices in environmental protection at our sites, from baseline studies before mining begins, through comprehensive management and monitoring systems during production, to reclamation activities during and after a mine's life. Examples are the Blackwater and Rainy River projects where comprehensive baseline studies serve as important benchmarks for our environmental protection programs. At Cerro San Pedro, we operate an in-house plant nursery that is the cornerstone of our reforestation and revegetation program, and we are returning areas heavily deforested by logging activities to their former state, planting approximately 1,100 plants per hectare.
We are committed to adopting the standards of the International Cyanide Management Code at our sites. The Mesquite Mine received full certification in 2012 and the Cerro San Pedro and Peak operations have been recommended by external auditors as substantially compliant with the Code. Another notable achievement in 2013 was New Gold earning the 14th spot among the “Future 40 Most Responsible Corporate Leaders in Canada” by Corporate Knights, chosen from a group of 213 eligible small to mid-cap companies in Canada across a range of industries.
Ensuring that the benefits of mining extend to local communities has been crucial to New Gold's operating success and will continue to underpin our achievements in the future. All of our sites are closely involved with local communities. Economic benefits flow in the form of employment, business opportunities and community investments. Mutual goodwill is generated by our efforts to support local endeavours, whether in the fields of health and wellness, education, cultural or economic diversification. For example, Cerro San Pedro once again received national recognition in 2013 as a socially responsible company from the Mexican Center for Philanthropy.
New Gold has also built a solid track record of good relations with Aboriginal peoples. Our engagement with Aboriginal peoples at New Afton, Blackwater and now Rainy River provide good examples. Our Participation Agreements provide for ongoing consultation and mutual benefit from the development of mining in the respective regions.