In 2017, RMG approved an environmental policy document. The company dedicates special attention to the observance of local and international standards in the field of environmental protection and labor safety in the production of mining and processing of minerals. The company takes the obligation to create a safe work environment for employees, contractors, and locals.
Environmental program 2018-2021
In 2018 based on the letter to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, RMG Copper and RMG Gold have started to develop an environmental program, which involves the implementation of various environmental projects and activities in order to reduce the impact of production processes in the license area of RMG and mitigate them as much as possible.
Together with the company’s environmental team, Golders Associated, an international consulting firm has worked on the environmental program.
The final part of the RMG environmental program entails the construction and commissioning of water cleaning facilities, thus will implement all conditions of correspondence issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia in 2017-2018.
RMG has implemented 97 mitigation measures under the Environmental Program, most of which are aimed to improve water, air, and soil quality. The investment in the implementation of the environmental program amounted to 30,000,000 GEL
Water protection measures
Encapsulation of the river Kazretula
Preparations for the Kazretula Pollution Protection Project included conducting the necessary surveys on the Kazretula River. At the next stage of the project, within the production area – at a distance of 2 560 m, convert river to pipe (encapsulation). By implementing the measure, the company ensured the protection of the river from contamination with wastewater from the enterprise and its surrounding area. The dam near the river was rehabilitated in order to prevent the pollution of the Kazretula with the leakage, so-called “acid waters” from the # 2 dump of the ore quarry. A new dam was additionally arranged. The water accumulated in the dam is completely returned to the technological cycle that eliminates further pollution of the environment with these waters.
A drainage channel was arranged on the section of the access road to the quarry near dumps #1 and #2. Under the road were placed two pieces of 300 mm diameter polyethylene pipe that provides organized drainage of excess volume of drainage water collected during the rain from the pond on the other side of the road to the gorge of the river Kazretula.
In the lower part of the River Kazretula, emergency dam clamps, three-stage cascades were arranged to ensure drainage waters getting into the riverbed of the River Kazretula. These waters are neutralized in cascades with lime milk. The final phase of the project envisages the construction of a modern chemical cleaning facility at the end of the dam clamps cascade that will already fully protect the Kazretula River from pollution.
Drainage water management
The company has taken appropriate measures to manage the drainage water flowing in the production area of RMG Copper. A system of drainage and sediment reservoirs were arranged on the main ore route of the quarry; Drainage output channels were set up at the foot of tailings for an organized collection of drained water and collection in the dam generated on the lower tiers of mine waste. The mentioned drainage system is put into operation with the unified complex installations and buildings.
The company has set up a drainage collection system for the accumulation and cleanings of runoff from the slopes of the dumps at the production area of RMG Gold.
Drainage water coming to the area is directed to the sediment collector through the arranged canals. Drainage water will be drained to the chemical cleaning from the sediment after that purified water will flow into the River Mashavera.
Protection measures for the River Poladauri
In order to avoid adverse impacts on the Poladauri River #3 and #4 dumps of vain rocks, construction of wastewater collector sediments (tanks) was carried out within the framework of water protection measures. Wastewater from dump #3 will be pumped through the pipeline into the 100 000 m3 tank from where water will be used in accordance with water consumption requirements. The acid water drained from dump #4 are flowed and collected in a concrete collector arranged at the bottom of the dump from where it drifts into two successive water reservoirs through a concrete canal. The water collected in the reservoirs will be pumped to a chemical cleaning building and the purified water will flow into the river Poladauri.
The company regularly monitors the quality of river water to assess the impact of wastewater from the RMG Copper enterprise in the riverbeds of the River Mashavera and Poladauri. At the same time, it conducts annual hydrographic surveys of the River Mashavera and River Poladauri.
Chemical Cleaning facilities
In 2019 RMG held an international tender for the project and construction of three water cleaning facilities. Two cleaning facilities will be located on the territory of RMG Copper and one on the territory of RMG Gold; the joint bid of the Portuguese construction company Elevolution Engenharia, SA and German consulting company Cerafiltek Germany GmbH. The cost of the contract amounts to 2 393 239 Euros. The project entails the cleaning of water contaminated with heavy metals through modern cleaning facility to launch surface water bodies in accordance with the current legislation of Georgia. The conceptual approach involves the precipitation and microfiltration of heavy metals by adjusting PH.
Detailed engineering projects developed by the company have been prepared for the beginning of 2020 and construction is implemented by Portuguese and German companies that won the tender.
Both companies have undergone environmental impact assessment procedures for the construction and operation of wastewater treatment plants and environmental permits have been issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture.
Tailings Pumping Infrastructure Project
Within the framework of the water protection plan, significant construction and rehabilitation measures were taken to protect the River Kazretula from pollution in order to prevent the discharge of wastewater and drained dam water into the River Kazretula from the adjacent slopes of the tailings of RMG Copper plant and caused by the atmospheric precipitation on the lower tiers.
In particular, water collection reservoirs and pumping infrastructure have been set up that ensures the collection of drainage water and pumps it back to the tailings. According to the technological scheme, at the bottom of the tailings 2 collection tanks (reinforced concrete construction, each volume is 1000 m3) are placed. One tank for collecting polluted water drains from dam, as well as for surface runoff caused by atmospheric precipitation on the slope of the dam and in the second tank, water coming out of the drainage collector at the bottom of tailings is collected. Water from both tanks is pumped back to tailings with the pipe through high-pressure pumps. At present, the drainage system (with the unified complex of constituent installations, equipment, and buildings) is put into operation and drained water from the tailings is completely placed in a closed production cycle that excludes the entry of these waters into surface water bodies and pollution.
Emergency Catch Tanks
In case of emergency, an additional (spare) 100 000 m3 reservoir for collection of acid waters is located on the south flank of the RMG Copper quarry area, at 1030 m above the sea level, to protect surface water bodies against discharge acid waters. To protect against leakage, the reservoir is equipped with a layer of high-density polyethylene mats (geomembrane) and is equipped with a pumping device. The water collected in the reservoir heads to the technological cycle of RMG Copper. In case of a possible accident on the pulp mainline of the tailings and dam body, a 9000 m3 emergency receiving tank was installed at the foot of the tailings which is covered with a geomembrane. In case of accidental spillage of water from tailings, water will be collected in this tank and the collected water will be pumped back to tailings via a mobile pump. In case of an emergency shutdown of the RMG Copper Ore Enrichment Plant, 6000 m3 tank has been set up near the enrichment plant to collect the volume of tails remaining at the pulp mainline which is lined with a layer of high-density polyethylene mats and equipped with a pumping device. In case of emergency, tails assembled in the tank will be returned to tailings through the pump.
Biological Cleaning Plants
The company has taken appropriate measures to prevent contamination with sewage and domestic waters. The so-called Bio-toilets are installed on the appropriate locations on the territory of the company that services are provided by the company sanitation vehicles. In order to manage agricultural and household wastewater, biological cleaning plants are operated on the production territory of both – RMG Copper and RMG Gold, that ensure the normative cleaning of agriculture and domestic water generated on the territory of the enterprise and included in the sewerage network. Periodic inspections are carried out for the proper operation of the cleaning plants.
Due to all of the above mentioned, the flow of sewage and household wastewater from the administrative and auxiliary blocks of the Sakdrisi quarry and leach pile area is completely prevented in the Kviratskhoveli narrow gorge. Due to the mentioned environmental measures, the sewage and household wastewater of the administrative and auxiliary blocks of the enterprises is flowed into the rivers only after cleaning and there is no negative impact on the water quality of surface water.
Air Protection Measures
Within the framework of the atmospheric air protection measures in order to reduce the spread of dust on highways and inland quarries, the company additionally purchased special vehicles. Irrigation intensity is determined based on the relevant experiment and the periodicity and schedule of road irrigation are determined. The maximum speed of movement for vehicles has been determined, which is constantly monitored directly via the GPS system. Concrete paving was arranged in the vicinity of the plant and on highways to reduce contamination during the ore transportation process.
RMG has developed a plan of measures for air protection that entails equipping closed and open-type crushing workshops, modern type air filter devices. Within the framework of RMG Copper replaced the stationary sources of emissions of harmful substances – lime workshop, large crusher, and medium/small crusher – absorbed air filter system of buildings – with new, modern, filtered type air filter systems that protect the environment from emissions. The project also plans to arrange an aspiration system at various knots of the enterprise.
Open Type Crushing Installation
In order to reduce dust emissions at the RMG Gold cumulative leaching square, the following measures are envisaged according to the company action plan at the ore crushing and relocation points:
- In 2018, water purification systems were installed at the crushing knots of RMG Gold, ore transfer, and loading points, which minimized the spread of dust particles in the atmosphere. In order to increase the efficiency of reducing the spread of emitted dust, in 2020, additional water spraying equipment was installed at the ore crushing and transfer points.
- At the ore crushing and transfer points, there operates a fog generator of Elefante that rotates at 3,400 and high-pressure emits millions of water droplets. The machine can be used to prevent and reduce the spread of dust particles, to reduce and cool temperature.
In order to protect the atmospheric air, as an additional measure, the company arranged car washing points for vehicles on the territory of RMG Copper and RMG Gold. Heavy equipment or other vehicles moving on the quarry and its surrounding area and/or carrying out the process of ore transportation are washed before traffic on the road, which significantly reduces dust on the road; the water generated at the car washing point is accumulated in special tanks and its management is carried out in accordance with the requirements of the legislation.
Soil Protection Activities
In order to protect the soil and prevent erosion processes on the slopes, erosive areas were identified within the production area of the companies, erosion generation factors were specified and anti-erosion measures were developed.
The companies plan to carry out restoration measures in exchange for the damaged soil. In particular, the company has started compensatory forest planting activities in the areas allocated to the company by the LEPL National Forest Agency.
In these areas, forest restoration/cultivation projects have been prepared by the company and approved by the orders of the National Forest Agency, according to which plants are being planted and maintained for forest cultivation.
In order to prevent soil contamination on the perimeter of the enterprise, the company’s production area is constantly monitored for proper waste management. The staff is periodically instructed, in case of risk of soil contamination there is an immediate response, and in case of contamination soil restoration measures will be implemented.
For the purpose of gradual restoration and re-cultivation of the damaged area during the extraction of minerals, a nursery farm was set up in RMG Copper where different types of plants are being planted. In the period of 2018-2019 years, horse chestnut, eldarica pine (pinus eldarica), and field maple (acer campestre) were planted. In the spring-autumn seasons of 2020, white acacia, ash-tree, black hawthorn, field maple, common thorn, tree of heaven, buckthorn, Oriental hornbeam were sown. Plantations are cared for periodically, and additional species will be planted in appropriate seasons (spring-autumn) as needed.
Vain rock dumps
Systematic visual and instrumental monitoring of the dumps is carried out to assess the resilience of the vain rock dump slopes located on the territory of the RMG Copper and RMG Gold deposits and to reduce the risk of geodynamic processes to maintain their stability. Based on the findings of the information received up to date, all active dump slopes of the company maintain sustainability. Based on the data obtained from the observation, the operating steps and the formation of the dumps completely are determined.
Slope stabilization works are being carried out on the closed dumps located on the license areas of RMG Copper and RMG Gold.
In order to stabilize the soil, number of measures have been taken since 2019:
- Water collector canals are arranged in the area in order to prevent mechanical and water erosion processes of the slopes;
- A short-term and long-term re-cultivation plan has been developed for 2020-2025, according to which the re-cultivation works of vain rock dumps, copper tailings, quarries (ore, basalt, tufa), and production area are produced and will be continued;
- On a certain area of the upper step of dump #2, special herbaceous perennial plant varieties were sown by planting hydro-sowing method.
- After the technical re-cultivation phase, biological re-cultivation works started on a number of facilities.
- Biological re-cultivation activities will continue seasonally. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the work performed, observations will be made for all seasons except the winter season.
Forest planting measures are planned to compensate for the areas damaged as a result of the activities of RMG Copper and RMG Gold. In particular, forest cultivation conduction area is allocated by the LEPL National Forest Agency.
Forest restoration/cultivation projects are being implemented in the mentioned areas, according to which plants are being planted for forest cultivation, maintenance works are being carried out.