2019 was a pivotal year for New Gold. Sustainability has been at the core of our business, ensuring we are respecting the environment, working continuously with our Indigenous partners, and continuing our exceptional closure activities at Cerro San Pedro (CSP) in Mexico. I am proud of the efforts of my team and the successes we have shared in the last year.
We knew 2019 would be a year of stabilization for our operations and within our teams. We have come out of a few challenging years with a lot of changes to the company. We are committed to investing in our teams and surrounding communities to strengthen relationships and confidence in New Gold. Throughout 2019 and into 2020, we have continued to put our employees’ health and safety, and care of communities first, and we continue to invest in our people.
Each year we assess our approach and improve our processes in collaboration with our stakeholders. I believe that in order for our operations and our company to be successful, we need to be working with all stakeholders to improve livelihoods, ensure strong environmental practices, and keep all of our employees and surrounding communities safe.
In 2019, the Blackwater project received its Environmental Assessment, and we continue to work with local stakeholders to advance this project.
At Rainy River, we focused on stabilizing the operation to become a free cash-flow operation, allowing the company to work on optimizing operational costs and performance. Several capital projects, such as Tailings Management Area (TMA) raises, dump stabilization and various infrastructure projects were undertaken in order to normalize the operation. Improvements in these project areas as well as at the process plant demonstrated our capacity to achieve and surpass mill capacity.
New Afton received the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Leadership Award for its TSM scores. This was awarded for having achieved Level A or better in all indicators, including “yes” in the crisis management and preventing child & forced labour indicators.
Cerro San Pedro received an award from the Mexican Philanthropy Centre (CEMEFI), distinguishing Minera San Xavier (MSX) as the Socially Responsible Company for 2019. This award has been given to MSX for 11 years in a row. Our team continues to work hard through closure to ensure we are following best practices.
We continued to see positive health and safety numbers at New Afton and Cerro San Pedro. New Afton achieved 2 million hours Lost-Time Injury (LTI) free in 2019, and CSP celebrated 1 million hours LTI free and 300 consecutive days of no injuries. We continue to work towards our goal of zero injuries and making sure all of our employees go home safe every day.
We invested in International Women in Mining (IWIM) to provide the opportunity for female leaders in New Gold to access world-class mentoring from other industry peers. These women will participate in an eight-month program to develop their leadership skills, enhance their skills, and work with others in the industry to promote female progression in mining. We are proud to be a partner of IWIM.
Throughout this report, you will read stories from New Afton, Rainy River, Blackwater and Cerro San Pedro, and witness the efforts and impacts of our teams across New Gold.
The beginning of 2020 was unexpected with the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and our values continue to guide our day-to-day actions. They are the foundation that has helped us forge trust and engage with our employees as we continue to navigate through this crisis. Through this period, we have committed to preserving and protecting the health and safety of our people, the environment, and communities while preserving the viability and integrity of our business.
The health and safety of our employees and surrounding communities is our number one priority, and we are working in partnership with communities, government and industry peers to bring the best screening and safety procedures to our operations. Looking forward, we will continue to evaluate our screening and testing capacities and push to integrate newer technologies and screening methods as they are developed and approved.
As we continue to position New Gold as a Canadian-focused company, we will be focusing our intentions around strengthening relationships with Indigenous communities that our mines impact. We understand that we made the choice to operate on Host Land, and with that choice comes responsibilities and obligations that we do not take lightly.
President & Chief Executive Officer