Ruth Allington & Teresa Steele-Schober ESG interview, hosted by Sarah Gordon
ESG is incredibly important to consider in the sourcing of responsible raw materials, and this is increasingly being recognised. More recently, its importance has been especially highlighted through events such as tailings dam collapses and the destruction of aboriginal caves in Australia.
Mining companies and investors in exploration and mining projects increasingly recognise the importance of ESG as a key risk area, and its significance is reflected in public reporting and other disclosures of resources and reserves intended to inform and protect the public (investors and other affected stakeholders). Here Dr Sarah Gordon interviews Ruth Allington and Teresa Steele-Schober, who recently gave a presentation on the significance of ESG at the annual general meeting of CRIRSCO, the international standard-setting organisation for the public disclosure of exploration results, resources and reserves for solid minerals.
What is ESG?
Linked to the concept of sustainability, the initials “ESG” stand for environment, social, and governance. “ESG” is often thought of as shorthand for 3 separate risk areas that require specialist consideration, but rapidly companies and investors are realising that these disciplines are not only inter-dependent but can provide opportunities as well as posing threats. A great way to visualise this is as three strands of a rope – each strand is distinct from the others but they work together to give strength and context to each other.
Why should a mining company care about ESG?
Timely and meaningful consideration of ESG risks can provide opportunities for companies to show they are responsible, ethical and transparent. Conversely, a lack of attention to these issues at first stages can sabotage all future operations and wreck reputations and public confidence. Investors especially are realising that early recognition and engagement brings a huge amount of value to the table. This early recognition holds benefit for the environment and communities too as mining companies work to understand their impacts and responsibly and proactively address them through effective governance.
Why did CRIRSCO hold a session on ESG at its AGM?
CRIRSCO is a family of reporting codes and standards which span the world based on a consistent classification system and definitions (the CRIRSCO International Reporting Template). The reporting of ESG aspects and consideration of their impact on resources and reserves is already important to the CRIRSCO family, but work is underway all round the world on the next round of updates and improvements to individual codes and standards and to the template itself. These will standardise some of the approaches and definitions relating to ESG, and provide more explicit guidance to ensure that ESG risks are considered and communicated more effectively in public disclosures and the professional (“Competent Person”) reporting that underpins them. Extra information can be found on www.responsiblereserves.com
What has been happening in South Africa?
SAMCODES sanctioned an ESG working group in 2013 to assess how ESG can be incorporated within their reporting codes. After about 2 years, the SAMESG Guideline was released to work alongside SAMREC, SAMVAL and soon SAMOG Codes. Since the launch of the 2016 code updates to SAMVAL and SAMREC, SAMESG became a mandatory guideline. Last year, the UN issued an award to them for this fantastic work.
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