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Water Management

Water management is a prime concern for any mining or processing operation and for its neighbours. Our objective at every New Gold operation is to minimize water use through recycling and reuse wherever possible and applying efficient designs and technologies. All water used in our mine sites is contained in a closed circuit, with only evaporation and entrainment in ore or tailings allowing water to leave the cycle. No process water discharges to the environment.

At all of our mining operations, rainwater is scarce. Except for New Afton, Rainy River and Blackwater, which source water from surface water supplies, New Gold sites source their water from groundwater wells or water utilities. Most of the water used in our sites is associated with the processing of ore. We also require water for dust control on mine haul roads and use dust suppressants to minimize evaporative loss.

Performance in 2013

Across the company’s operations, raw water efficiency (raw water used per amount of ore processed) has slightly declined over the last four years despite our efforts to minimize water consumption. For example, Peak Mines uses water-efficient “thickened tailings”, which uses much less water than traditional lower density tailings deposition. At the New Afton Mine, water is recycled through the tailings facility and returned for use in processing. At the Mesquite and Cerro San Pedro Mines, water used for processing ore is reused at a 72% and 91% rate, respectively. The increase in water consumption is due to New Afton’s increased water use during its first year of operation.

Water Withdrawal: Raw Process Water Use and Water Efficiency – All Sites

Estimated Process Water Use 2010 2011 2012 2013
Raw Process Water (cubic metres) 3,514,884 4,607,260 5,785,029 6,328,8421
Raw Process Water (cubic metres) per Tonnes of Ore Processed2 0.14 0.15 0.16 0.19

Includes approximately 1,228,952 cubic metres of surface water (19.4%), 4,328,310 cubic metres of groundwater (68.4 %), and 771,580 (12.2%) cubic metres from water utilities. Does not include rainwater.


2013 total ore processed and ore to leach pads was approximately 32,661,000 tonnes.

Raw Water Efficiency GraphWe continue to seek opportunities to reduce our raw water consumption and increase water reuse where possible. In 2013, we reused approximately 25.5 million cubic metres of water – just above four times the amount of raw water we withdrew from surface, groundwater and water utilities – and used approximately 117, 880 cubic metres of rainwater and 74,590 cubic metres of treated wastewater. At Cerro San Pedro, we started a pilot project to utilize treated city wastewater in the leach pads, which, if successful, would significantly reduce groundwater use at the mine.