Investors launch global commission to drive improvements in mining sustainability

Published 07:42 on January 26, 2023  /  Last updated at 07:42 on January 26, 2023  /  Biodiversity  /  No Comments

Investors at the London Stock Exchange have launched the Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030 to raise the industry’s sustainability standards across a number of issues, including biodiversity protection.

Investors at the London Stock Exchange have launched the Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030 to raise the industry’s sustainability standards across a number of issues, including biodiversity protection.

Led by institutional investors, chaired by the Church of England Pensions Board, and advised by UNEP, the commission intends to ensure that the expected increase in mining activities for minerals required for decarbonisation won’t have adverse impacts.

“Working practically, transparently and in partnership with industry and other stakeholders, the new commission aims to bring the finance and corporate worlds together to ensure the mining industry retains its social license as it scales to meet demand for the low carbon transition,” said Adam Matthews, the commission’s chair and chief responsible investment officer at the Church of England Pensions Board.

The commission will focus on a wide range of issues – artisanal mining, child labour, the impact of automation and the future workforce, Indigenous community and First Nations rights, impacts on biodiversity, climate change, tailings dams, conflict reconciliation, and corruption.

It will develop global best practice standards and disclosures to help investors, banks, and others align with those mining companies that can document responsible practices and standards.

“The tightrope that any mining company must walk in order to maintain their social license is increasingly tied up with whether they have a working social compact with the communities and broader society they exist in, as well as the social compact of the industry as a whole,” said Thabo Makgoba, the archbishop of Cape Town, one of the commission’s high-profile backers.

Mining is one of the sectors globally with the biggest biodiversity footprint, and has been selected by the Science Based Targets Network as one of the industries that will have access to its initial nature-based target screening process due to its impact.

“Mining is a significant driver of deforestation, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. At the same time, mining companies are often both dependent on and exposed to nature. For example, they usually rely on a secure water supply, and might have operations and safe waste management processes that are vulnerable to heavy rainfall,” the 2030 commission said.

“It’s crucial that these impacts and dependencies on nature are managed sustainably and responsibly as the sector expands. Yet there is a critical lack of data on mining land-use and associated impacts on nature. Recent findings from MSCI indicate that 20% of mines owned by MSCI ACWI Investable Market Index constituents are located in ‘biodiversity hotspots’ – areas with rich but threatened ecosystems.”

In its work on biodiversity, the commission will issue a series of questions that it will consult on with experts to aid its deliberations, its website said.

The commission’s approach is based on the process carried out in Brazil after the 2019 Brumadinho disaster, where a tailings dam at an iron ore mine collapsed, killing 270 people and leaving 11 more permanently missing.

In the aftermath of the disaster a new global standard on tailings management was negotiated between industry and the UN, with a global institute established to oversee independent auditing and site compliance with that standard.

The London Stock Exchange investors hope to achieve something similar on this broad range of issues.

“By 2050, the World Bank forecasts a 500% surge in demand for metals and minerals, such as lithium, nickel, and graphite, used to produce the clean energy technologies needed to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals,” the commission said in an announcement.

“As miners scale production to meet demand, they must do so responsibly and without harm to communities and the environment – or risk conflict and opposition from host communities that will in turn undermine the global climate transition.”

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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