Tag Archives: ESG

Barrick Gold advances emissions reductions targets after a year of ESG positives in 2020

Barrick Gold has decided to up the ESG ante with a new emissions reduction target to 2030 that makes its goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 that much more achievable.

The company said its ESG strategy delivered tangible results in 2020, included zero Class 1 environmental incidents, a new record of 79% water recycling and re-use by its operations, and the introduction of fully functional community development committees at all its operating sites to guide its social investment programs.

Speaking in a virtual presentation on sustainability this week, Barrick President and CEO, Mark Bristow, said: “At the beginning of last year, we set an emissions reduction target of 10% by 2030 against a 2018 baseline that combined the data from the legacy Barrick and Randgold operations as well as newly acquired assets. Through the year, we worked on identifying further reduction opportunities and this has enabled us to set an updated target of at least 30% by 2030 with an interim reduction target of 15% based on projects already being implemented, while maintaining a steady production profile.”

He added: “Ultimately our aim is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, achieved primarily through greenhouse gas reductions and offsets for some hard-to-abate emissions,” he said.

Sustainability has long been a strategic business priority for the company, according to Bristow.

“Our strategy is based on four pillars: the creation of economic benefits for all stakeholders; the protection of health and safety at our mines and in their host communities; a respect for human rights; and the minimisation of our environmental impacts. For us, ESG is not a corporate compliance function: it’s integral to how we manage our businesses worldwide.”

In the same presentation, Barrick’s Group Sustainability Executive, Grant Beringer, said all the company’s sites had been certified to the ISO 14001:2015 environmental management standard. Each site had also been empowered to manage its own environmental issues under the oversight of the group’s strategic leadership. There was a particularly rigorous approach to management of tailings facilities, the company added.

Beringer said: “Our tailings and heap leach management standard has been aligned with the recently updated guidelines of the International Council on Mining and Metals, of which Barrick is a member, as well as those of the Mining Association of Canada. The standard sets out six levels of inspection and surety for the safe operation of tailings and heap leach facilities.”

Newmont sets up global centre to promote meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples

Newmont Corp has launched the Newmont Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations as a key part of the company’s aim to promote meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples.

The centre will be a resource for the company and the mining industry as a way to promote awareness, education and engagement between industry and Indigenous Peoples, the gold miner said.

Tom Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer, explained: “Newmont recognises the special connection between Indigenous Peoples and the land, and that mining can affect this connection in some challenging ways. The entire industry has a great opportunity to learn and improve our practices.

“Through the centre, meaningful partnerships will be formed to create a space for dialogue and sharing with the aim of improving outcomes for Indigenous communities around our operations and act as a catalyst for improvement within the mining industry.”

The centre seeks to establish a respected source of dialogue, collective knowledge and experiences in order to improve the company’s practices and contribute in advancing the industry’s approach to engagement with Indigenous communities, Newmont said. It has identified three focus areas and a set of three-year strategic objectives to orient meaningful outcomes. These focus areas are:

  • Partnership and learning network;
  • Respect for customs and culture; and
  • Opportunities for Indigenous People.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, the centre will work collaboratively with the Advisory Council on Indigenous Community Relations, a group of external experts who advise the Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors.

An internal working group comprised of diverse representatives from within Newmont will also share experiences, best practices and identify ways to improve collaboration. The centre will work across all of Newmont’s jurisdictions around the world, the miner said.

Inspire Resources and MineRP to collaborate on new digital mining tools

Inspire Resources and MineRP have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on creating new digital tools for each others platforms.

The agreement is expected to lead to the development of tools for both the Mineral Impulse™ business model and the MineRP platform.

Inspire Resources is a Canada-based corporation formed in 2019 to implement a new mining-centred business model for community-owned development projects. Its current focus is transforming the design process for speed, flexibility, transparency and community participation.

“We are consulting to mining company clients who are looking for imaginative new approaches,” the company explains.

It added: “We are preparing for a time when the community becomes the customer for Mining-as-a-Service (MaaS), and we intend to be the first MaaS prime contractor.”

MineRP, meanwhile, is an independent software vendor focused on the development of a platform that serves the mining industry through integrating all mine technical systems into a single spatial temporal platform. The company is in the process of being taken over by Epiroc.

Inspire Resources President, Andy Reynolds, said: “Our discussions with MineRP began even before we incorporated Inspire Resources; we share a positive outlook on transformative opportunities in mining, and this collaboration will be a very welcome boost to the start-up path for Inspire Resources.”

Pieter Nel, CEO of MineRP, added: “MineRP realises that creating and sustaining real value to mines requires an ecosystem of partners. We are delighted to partner with mines and innovative companies like Inspire Resources to bring solutions focused on the interests of both mines and communities to the industry.”

Syrah to integrate solar, battery power solution at Balama graphite mine

Syrah Resources has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Solar Century Africa Ltd to progress a solar and battery storage hybrid power system to work in conjunction with the existing diesel generation power plant at its Balama graphite mine in Mozambique.

The solar and battery storage system aims to reduce CO2 emissions and operating costs at the operation.

Solar Century and Syrah have undertaken technical design and pricing analysis through 2020 for several solar and battery options at Balama, from which Syrah has chosen its preferred solution of 11.2 MW solar with an 8.5 MW battery, subject to final design. The solar and battery installation will work in conjunction with the existing 15 MW diesel generation power plant at Balama, which the company said was chosen as a low-risk power generation option for the initial establishment of operations at Balama.

Syrah Managing Director and CEO, Shaun Verner, said: “Progression of a large-scale solar and battery installation will reduce the operating cost base at Balama and further strengthen the ESG credentials of Balama’s natural graphite supply and the future supply from our vertically integrated battery anode material project in Vidalia, USA.”

The MoU establishes the terms and conditions under which Syrah and Solar Century will continue with the development of the design, funding, construction and operation of a solar and battery installation under a build, own, operate and transfer arrangement.

The top four business problems the mining industry needs to solve today

Ahead of her appearance at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) Online, conference organisers spoke with Michelle Ash, CEO of Dassault Systèmes’ GEOVIA division, to get her thoughts on some of the biggest problems the mining industry needs to solve today, and what the mining industry can learn from other industries to gain a competitive advantage.

IMARC: What aspects should mining companies pay attention to in order to prepare for (and accelerate) the industry transformation to a more sustainable future?

MA: The biggest challenge to the mining industry today and in the future is changing opinions, changing expectations of society, of people, and of citizens. Our performance as an industry and the rate at which societies’ expectations are changing is actually widening. This does not mean we are not transforming. As an industry, we are adopting new technology, innovating and doing things differently; however, society’s expectations of us as an industry are so much higher than in previous generations. This is simply the result of seeing ongoing dramatic change in other sectors and expecting the mining sector to change as fast and as radically. This means that not only do we need to increase our rate of transformation, we also need to fundamentally rethink some of our processes.

This translates into the need to adopt completely new ways of working, in order to remain relevant to the community and the emerging workforce. Mining companies need to increase the rate at which they adopt technologies that enable mobility and collaboration to solve problems in unique and transparent ways. These platforms and applications make working collaboratively from anywhere seamless. Mining businesses must also ensure their workforce build new skills, such as high voltage electrical, data science and analytics, robotics, instrumentation in order to attract young talent and remain competitive employers.

IMARC: What are the major business problems the industry needs to solve today?

MA: For me, there are four major problems we need to solve as an industry:

  • Global orebody intelligence: We need to be able to find orebodies faster, cheaper and more completely. We can use satellite imaging to detect orebodies and use physical geospatial and hyperspectral technologies to provide additional data to a geologist;
  • Automation and electrification: We need to understand performance and optimise performance in real time and optimise planning in real time;
  • Precision extraction: We need to be even more precise in extracting the metal that we are interested in without creating excessive waste and subsequently being able to process the metal efficiently. This means using digital twins to create simulations and what-if scenarios before building in real life with sensors in place for analytics. This not only minimises risk but also reduces errors, and waste; and
  • Creation of social value: We need to better use technology to create and distribute value to our communities.

Mining companies’ real competitive advantage is the speed at which they can adopt technology into their business that solves a business problem, while continuing to create value to society. This is where mining organisations need to look at solutions that are already available in other industries and their ecosystem of competition and collaboration in order to build a sustainable future.

IMARC: What lessons can the mining industry learn from other industries for their competitive advantage?

MA: The mining industry can learn from aircraft and automotive industries; two industries which experienced something similar in the last quarter of the last century. Both industries have fundamentally changed from leveraging emerging technology of the time and adopting radically different ways of doing things.

For example, in the aircraft industry, technology has helped in a 91% reduction in development time, 71% reduction in labour costs, 90% reduction in redesign and dramatically reduced design and production flaws, mismatches, and associated errors.

The auto industry has also developed into a segmented network in the last 50 years. For example, no car company makes windshields or rear-view-mirrors anymore – they are always purchased from windshield makers, and rear-view-mirror makers, respectively. This division of labour across the automotive ecosystem enables suppliers to be agile and innovative. This also means that auto-parts can be quickly and easily sourced, and suppliers empowered to design and produce new parts quickly and efficiently.

IMARC: How can the industry attract younger people and sustain diversity?

MA: The only question mining companies need to consider – how do I rapidly change the way we work to enable greater inclusivity, more remote working, whilst also adding value to our communities?

In most of the developed countries, the mining sector has a mature and ageing workforce. For example, in Russia and Australia, three quarters of the workforce will be retiring in the next 15 years. The younger generation does not see mining in the same way. In addition, the younger generation, being digital natives, are also more interested in automation jobs, the robotics jobs, the remote operating centre jobs, or working with drones. This means the sector has to evolve much more rapidly and incorporate new technology and new ways of working with some of this great equipment to solve problems and work in fundamentally different ways in order to attract the younger generation. The younger generation is much more collaborative, much more eager to talk about the issues that they see and find solutions.

Michelle Ash will be sharing further insights on ‘Shaping the Sustainable Future of Mining’ during her presentation at IMARC Online on November 25.

COVID-19: the catalyst for driving sustainability in the metals and mining sector

COVID-19 has been a game-changer for many industries, with an inconceivable amount of companies closing or temporarily stopping their work, report Pat Lowery and Dr Nick Mayhew*.

The metals and mining industry has been no exception. By April this year, almost 250 mine sites in 33 countries had been disrupted by the virus with government-mandated shutdowns and hundreds of thousands of workers sent home either because they had contracted the virus or for their safety.

While the global pandemic has proved to be a severe crisis for the mining industry, severe crises force change, and the mining industry has been forced to commit to change and to new goals to survive.

At first, it seemed that companies might give up complying with sustainability and ESG (environment, social and governance) goals. However, the outcome was in fact the opposite. The pandemic has demonstrated that sustainability is now a permanent, key driver across the world, which will not be forgotten by governments nor the private sector.

Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American

The European Council made this clear by highlighting that it will not abandon its ‘Green Deal’ as part of its fiscal response to COVID-19. While in the US, New York State passed legislation which accelerated the construction of clean energy facilities as a way to spur economic recovery and fight climate change. As for investors, according to the COVID-19 Investor Pulse Check report, published by the Boston Consulting Group in May 2020, 51% of investors say they want CEOs to continue to fully pursue their ESG agenda and priorities.

COVID-19 not only set the records straight on a commitment to sustainability, but it provided a much-needed stimulus to spur the innovation required to achieve this desired goal. The metals and mining sector traditionally had a reputation for being slow to embrace new technologies – it ranked 30th out of 53 sectors in terms of R&D investment in the 2018 Global Innovation Study 1000 – however, it had no option but to react quickly to the crisis.

For instance, BHP created a COVID-19 tracking app and its Atacama mine in Chile developed a tool to remotely check stock levels for critical site materials – ensuring employee safety as well as a quick response.

Now, according to the Axora Insights COVID-19 survey, despite a significant drop in revenue after the pandemic caught the industry off-guard, experts expect the metals and mining sector’s investment in digital innovation to grow about 10% year-on-year. By using innovative technology, the industry will overcome the challenge of converting traditional mines into smart, sustainable ones with social commitment, responsibility and care towards their workers and their rights.

Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Rio Tinto’s vast iron ore operation in Australia’s Pilbara region, for example, is the world’s largest owner and operator of autonomous trucks, having announced last year that 50% of its entire haulage fleet was automation-ready, providing safer and more cost-efficient sites. In Chile, Teck Resources is using remote smart sensor technology to gather data on the local water and identify hourly fluctuations in water quality, enabling the company to share 24/7 real-time water quality data with the local community. Nornickel in Russia is installing data transmission devices on load-haul-dump vehicles and self-propelled drilling rigs to enable remote-controlled operations, as well as developing drones to take video deep inside the mines and robots for high-quality 3D mine surveying.

Meanwhile, the Borden gold mine in Ontario, Canada, and the Agnew mine, in Western Australia, have faced their environmental challenges head-on by introducing electrification and renewable energy to their sites. The Borden mine’s electric and battery-powered fleet has eliminated diesel emissions completely and is expected to halve the total emissions on site by around 5,000 t of CO² a year. Whilst the Agnew mine met up to 60% of the site’s energy needs by running remote, off-grid operations with solar, gas, wind, and battery power, proving that such operations need not compromise reliability or productivity.

COVID-19 has escalated the need for a more sustainable and resilient metals and mining sector. There is a need to protect in the longer term, for example, against future pandemics, to ensure worker’s safety, to implement rapid recovery systems and to de-risk operations. Shifting global priorities are putting a greater emphasis on health, social and community issues; responsible partnering with the government; and pressure on companies to demonstrate fast and responsive action to current issues.

The global pandemic has provided metals and mining companies with the downtime to improve their innovative solutions and enable ‘smart’ and sustainable mines. From being a vague term, sustainability has become a real goal as COVID-19 has pushed companies to put the priorities and goals in the right order and to drive forward their businesses.

*Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American, and Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Australian Mines makes history with certified carbon neutral status

Australian Mines says it has become the first mineral resources company to be certified a “Carbon Neutral Organisation” under the Australian Government’s Climate Active program.

Climate Active is the most rigorous and credible carbon neutral certification available in Australia, according to the company, and meeting the “Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard” means Australian Mines’ carbon neutral status is based on best practice, international standards and genuine emissions reductions.

Last month, the Queensland Government offered a conditional financial support package to Australian Mines’ 100% owned Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in the north of the state. When fully developed, Sconi is forecast to be one of the most cost competitive cobalt-producing, nickel operations in the world, Australian Mines says.

The 2018 Sconi bankable feasibility study outlined a three open pit, 2 Mt/y operation that could produce some 8,496 t/y of cobalt sulphate, 53,301 t/y of nickel sulphate and 89 t/y of scandium oxide over the 18-year mine life.

“Australian Mines ability to maintain carbon neutral certification will underpin its position as a sustainable business that incorporates leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices,” it said. The company is already an approved member of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), which independently verifies and certifies socially and environmentally responsible mining.

Australian Mines’ Managing Director, Benjamin Bell, said becoming the first Climate Active Carbon Neutral mineral resources company is consistent with Australian Mines’ commitment to leading on ESG.

“It follows the approval in March 2020 of our membership of IRMA and the Queensland Government recognising our commitment to the communities where we operate by granting ‘Prescribed Project’ status to our flagship Sconi project in 2019,” he said.

Australian Mines’ primary focus is to sustainably develop the Sconi project into a globally significant, ethical, reliable source of technology metals to meet the rapid growth in the electric vehicle and energy storage industries, it says.

A key part of sustainably developing Sconi is the company’s carbon neutrality plan designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing energy saving initiatives coupled with offsetting any unavoidable emissions.

“Being certified Carbon Neutral by Climate Active is part of building a sustainable future for Australian Mines, long-term value for our shareholders and a better environment for all our stakeholders,” Bell said. “Members of the Climate Active Network are responsible for over 22 Mt of carbon emissions being offset, which is the equivalent of taking all of Sydney’s cars off the road for two years.”

BHP and Curtin University to explore ‘environmental DNA’ in latest partnership

Curtin University and BHP have joined forces in a new partnership to develop research and innovation projects and, Curtin says, support the higher education of emerging leaders.

BHP has committed to working side-by-side with Curtin to apply innovative thinking, world-class expertise and novel solutions to shape the future of the resources and energy sector and produce job-ready graduates to focus on some of the big challenges of the future, the university said.

One of the initial BHP-Curtin alliance projects involves five research studies that will use environmental DNA (eDNA) to help the preservation of species and conservation of important marine features.

Named the eDNA for Global Environment Studies (eDGES), the projects include research to improve monitoring of the endangered/rare Pilbara Olive Python and high-altitude wetlands of international importance in Chile, and develop new tests to detect invasive marine species relevant to closure of infrastructure in the marine environment.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor, Deborah Terry (pictured on the right with BHP Head of Corporate Affairs, Meath Hammond), said the wide-reaching partnership will deepen an already proven relationship.

“BHP has been a generous supporter of Curtin and Curtin students for more than a decade through a range of successful scholarship and partnership programs,” Professor Terry said. “This new BHP-Curtin alliance builds on that established mutual respect and shared commitment to innovation through collaboration.

“This partnership will allow industry to interact with students, researchers and academics to produce job-ready graduates. In partnership, we are committed to leading the world with our research and study programs to achieve sustainable, positive change across industries and sectors.”

She added: “Our researchers are already working to find solutions to our real world challenges. Our experts in science, engineering and data science are at the forefront of new materials, new manufacturing methods and artificial intelligence. It’s this expertise, innovative thinking and vision for the future that Curtin will bring to our alliance with BHP.”

BHP Acting Asset President Western Australia Iron Ore, Tim Day, said the company was looking forward to working closely with Curtin across a wide range of projects.

“We each have global footprints and proud histories of driving innovation and this partnership gives us both the opportunity to learn from each other to genuinely make an impact,” Day said.

“This is a great opportunity to advance technology together, as we look to the future of work.”

The scope of the BHP-Curtin alliance is broad and will also include scholarships and alumni programs, enabling programs to position BHP as an employer of choice and support access to education from remote areas, internships, work-integrated learning opportunities, professional development opportunities for BHP staff, as well as community programs and research initiatives focusing on mining modernisation, automation and sustainability, Curtin said.