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ESG Factors Take Center Stage for Mining Sector

Note: This article was extracted from https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=f46aa546-1081-49cf-bd26-62274e1b95ca and revised.

The mining industry is increasingly addressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as a matter of urgency, as protection of natural resources continues to shape the global business agenda.

Reputation and performance at stake

As the industry grapples with the effects of extreme weather on its sites, equipment, energy supplies, and transportation routes, the attention paid to the corporate social responsibility of mining groups around the world is ever growing.

A mining company unprepared for the transition to more sustainable practices, as climate change takes hold, is not only putting its reputation and operations at risk, but also jeopardizing future performance and investment opportunities.

While there is no conclusive list of ESG risks for the mining sector to consider, they usually include a blend of the following environmental, social, and governance factors.

Environmental

Criteria examining a mining company’s impact on the planet generally cover its approach to measuring and managing air, water, and soil pollution. These criteria extend not just through the life of a mine, but also to post-production activities, during reclamation.

Other factors for a mining company to consider when building a sustainable business strategy, include: the impact the organization has on biodiversity; its energy consumption and gross CO2 emissions; and its vulnerability to catastrophe, in both physical and logistical terms.

As demand increases for exploration, mining, and processing of raw materials critical to the clean energy transition, mining companies have an opportunity to integrate and enhance environmental policies, congruent with global initiatives.

Social

Criteria examine how well a company treats and values its employees and broader communities. Factors can include: an organization’s labor management policies; its health, safety, and wellbeing commitments; the impact it has on the local community; and the labor standards of any suppliers.

These questions are a few of the many focal points for the mining industry, with specific consideration given to employee health and safety, and a company’s compensation policies in the event of mining-induced displacement of people.

Governance

Governance criteria assess a company’s corporate governance practices. These focus on board structure, in particular board diversity, transparency, and the company’s relationship with governmental and regulatory bodies, as well as NGOs.

A company’s ESG record will be improved by alignment to the following frameworks:

  • Responsible Gold Mining Principles.
  • UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
  • UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.
  • International Council on Mining and Metals’ 10 Sustainable Development Principles.

Survey finds low levels of preparedness for ESG factors

Mining sector participants currently vary vastly in their readiness for the transition to sustainability.

In a recent survey by Marsh, 90% of respondents in the mining industry ranked climate change and ESG as either an important, or the most important, issue for their operations.

However, 44% of respondents said they have an ineffective process, or no process at all, for identifying, responding to, and implementing changes based on climate threats and ESG-related factors.

This represents a crucial gap that needs to be filled.

In the gold mining industry, the prevalent use of toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury to extract gold has had massive repercussions on the environment and communities — the production of tailings dams with toxic waste products and cyanide leaks polluting the surrounding environment are just some examples. Therefore, ESG factors are of paramount importance in the sector and need to be incorporated into mining operations.

Clean Mining, a part of the Clean Earth Technologies group, has a solution that can help gold miners effectively integrate ESG into their operations. It will transform gold production worldwide with a new, clean mineral processing technology that eliminates cyanide and mercury in the gold recovery process.

Gold miners who adopt this new technology will find themselves not only at the forefront of environmental sustainability and related concerns, but also of performance and investment opportunities.

 

Clean Mining is part of the Clean Earth Technologies group.

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