Tag Archives: ESG

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.

Lost Dutchman Mine ready to tell its metal separation tale

A company out of Arizona, USA, believes it has come up with a density separation technology that could upgrade heavy metal concentrates without the need for water or chemicals.

Lost Dutchman Mine (LDM), named after the legend of a rich Arizona gold deposit discovered by an elusive Dutch prospector, never since located, is the company in question. Being supported along the way by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) out of Sudbury, Ontario, the firm is looking to find a way into the mining sector at a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns have reached a new high.

Mark Ogram, one of three Co-founders of LDM, explained the company’s aim and name, saying: “We’ve been able to find gold where people could not find it.

“We have now come up with a solution that requires no chemicals or water to purify a gold ore.”

While gold is the company’s initial focus, the process can be applied to most heavy metals including silver, copper and tungsten, according to Ogram. Some encouraging results have also been seen removing sulphides from gold ore ahead of further processing, in addition to ‘cleaning’ coal, he added.

A gravity separation process that uses air flow rather than water to separate these materials by density, the obvious comparisons are with Knelson concentrators or other separation technologies – all of which tend to use water or another medium for their processes. Ogram says Knelson concentrators are also for free gold, not refractory gold, the latter of which the LDM technology can cope with.

allmineral’s allair® technology also comes to mind as a comparison. This is a process that leverages many of the functions of the water-operated alljig® technology but, instead, uses air as the pulsating medium. So far, allair’s applications have been confined to mostly coal and other minerals.

Like many of these technologies, it is feed preparation that will prove decisive for the application of LDM technology, with ore crush size and moisture content the two key factors.

“We don’t think we would need ball mills to get the feed down to the right size,” LDM Co-founder Ken Abbott said. “A standard crushing and screening setup should be suitable.”

While test work to date has been with material in the 30-60 mesh range, Abbott is confident the technology will work with material from 100-200 mesh.

“It will be a little more of a sensitive process, but it does work should people require it,” he said.

When it comes to moisture content, a drying process will most likely be needed ahead of feeding to the LDM unit.

“The material needs to flow freely to work well,” Abbott said.

In-field test work involved the company using a tumble-type continuous screener/dryer to reach the appropriate moisture content, but a more ‘industrial’ process will be required in commercial applications.

The best results are likely to be achieved when both factors are consistent, according to LDM.

“The system requires a steady and uniform distribution in the feed cycle that includes surge capacity and automated material flow to ensure a steady feed rate,” the company says.

Dale A Shay, a consultant with RIMCON advising LDM, said vat leaching operations were already producing material at the appropriate size for the LDM technology to be tested. “They are also reducing the moisture content to an appropriate level,” he said.

Despite this, the company feels tailings applications may be the most suitable place to start with. This harks back to the ESG concerns miners are feeling – some of which revolves around tailings impoundment areas – as well as the fact the ‘conservative’ mining industry is generally more comfortable testing new technologies on material they already consider to be ‘waste’.

For the technology to prove out, the company will have to scale up its testing.

LDM has, to date, carried out benchtop, laboratory scale and in-field tests on low-grade material, but it has only reached a 1 ton (0.9 t) per hour rate.

“We would put in a tonne and get a few grams out,” Ogram said. “That is how we developed the technology.”

Despite there being a linear progression of recoveries from benchtop to lab to the field, LDM will need to go bigger to find the widescale applications it is after.

Yet, its potential entry into the market is well timed.

Removing the use of chemicals and water in a process that will most likely come after initial crushing could prove cost-effective, as well as environmentally sound.

Yes, the air flow component and feed drying will consume power on mine sites, but this ‘upfront’ operating cost will pay off further downstream as not as much material will be transported to make its way down the process flowsheet. It is more likely to go straight to tailings or backfill material feed.

Abbott explains: “The technology drastically reduces the material that will move onto final concentration, which substantially reduces material movement on site.”

For new developments, there is a knock-on benefit for permitting; the regulatory boxes are much more likely to be ticked when the words ‘water’ and ‘cyanide’ are absent from applications.

LDM Co-founder, Wayne Rod, sums this up: “Although from a cost perspective, it is expected to be competitive with other concentration technologies, the real savings will come on the ESG front and being able to reduce any environmental issues you may have.”

This is a message Rod and the rest of the LDM team are taking to the headquarters of major mining companies, where executives and board members are treating ESG challenges like a ‘cost’ they need to reduce to stay viable.

“As that ESG issue becomes even more prevalent, I see technology becoming a much bigger focus area,” Rod says. “Taking water and chemicals out of the concentration process will help alleviate some of that pressure.”

Top 40 miners may need to de-risk critical supply chains in face of COVID-19: PwC

The top 40 mining companies are so far weathering the COVID-19 storm mostly unscathed, and certainly better than many other sectors, according to PwC’s 17th annual review of global trends in the mining industry.

In Mine 2020, the report authors said this was a remarkable feat, given that global growth is expected to decline in 2020, something that’s only happened twice in modern times: in 1944, during World War II, and, in 2009, during the global financial crisis.

The ability of the top 40 to ‘resource the future’ continues to be relevant in the current environment as many governments will appreciate mining for being a bedrock of economic recovery out of this crisis, the authors said.

“Our forecast for 2020 suggests the top 40 miners will take a modest hit to EBITDA of approximately 6%,” they said. “Capital expenditure will also slow, freeing up cash flows, and giving miners the capacity to pay dividends should they choose to do so.”

Against this backdrop, the authors did not expect many mega-deals to take place, due to the increased economic uncertainty and practical constraints of site visits and inspections.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to some positive changes around the way these companies operate, according to the authors.

“Although mining has been able to keep operating through the COVID-19 crisis, companies have also had to adapt and evolve,” they said. “Some changes have been for the better, such as remote workforce planning and greater use of automation. Many of these adaptations may become permanent.”

They continued: “In an uncertain environment, miners have focused intensely on controlling the things they can control, and it is serving them well. But the top 40 are not immune from the social and economic shocks ahead, and they cannot afford to let their guard down.

“COVID-19 is challenging long-held assumptions about the unassailable wisdom of ultra-lean principles and global supply chains. Miners may need to think about de-risking critical supply chains and investing more in local communities. A shift towards localisation in supply chains and in deals, as well as different forms of community engagement, may turn out to be enduring consequences of the pandemic.”

The top 40 miners also need to keep on top of the mega-trends that existed pre-COVID, particularly environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting and cybersecurity, the authors said.

“We analysed how the top 40 are performing on ESG disclosure and found that a few companies are doing most of the heavy lifting, while the rest lag behind,” they said. “But ‘brand mining’ is a collective brand, and every miner needs to play its part.

“On the cyber front, the top 40 have some work to do. At a time when mining companies are becoming more vulnerable to cyberattack as they use more automation and digital technologies, CEOs are expressing less concern about such issues.”

In some respects, the mining sector is well-situated in the wake of COVID-19, the authors said.

“For example, despite recent uncertainty regarding Brazil’s ability to continue mining, iron ore prices have risen, potentially limiting the total impact on the sector,” they said. “Mining companies have strong finances and are mostly still operational, albeit with increased levels of precautionary controls.

“But the longer-term impacts remain uncertain, and ongoing disruption is likely.

“Top 40 miners should take advantage of their current position of financial stability to revisit their strategies. Doing so will ensure their businesses can enhance their resilience over the long term and meet the demands of the global economy to maximise the opportunities to resource the post COVID-19 future.”

RPMGlobal, Envitech to carry out environmental studies at Tietto’s Abujar project

Tietto Minerals says it has engaged key environmental specialists, including RPMGlobal, to advance work on baseline environmental, social and governance (ESG) studies on the Abujar‐Gludehi (AG) gold deposit, part of its 2.2 Moz Abujar gold project, in Côte d’Ivoire.

Tietto says it retained RPMGlobal Principal Social Specialist, Luke Stephens – who only recently joined RPMGlobal – to help develop the ESG work program.

In addition to RPMGlobal, Tietto has also engaged Côte d’Ivoire-based Envitech (the team pictured here on site) to conduct the baseline fieldwork necessary for the compilation of the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) required to obtain environmental approval. The ESIA will identify the potential social and environmental impacts of developing Abujar and outline any proposed mitigation measures, it said.

Once the ESIA is completed, expected to be later this year, Tietto will submit it to the Ivoirian Environment Minister for review and approval as a necessary step for the issuance of the mining licence.

Tietto Managing Director, Caigen Wang, said: “The appointment of these key ESG consultants is part of our strategy to advance work on project studies necessary for the grant of a mining licence and ultimately the development of a mining operation at Abujar.

“Our ESG program will run in parallel with technical studies while drilling continues on‐site as we target delivery of an updated resource in Q3 (September quarter) 2020. This updated mineral resource, and results from a metallurgical test work program also underway, will underpin a prefeasibility study scheduled for Q1 (March quarter) 2021.”

Australian Mines shoots for carbon neutral status

Australian Mines has teamed up with sustainability, carbon and energy management consultancy, Pangolin Associates, to develop a “Carbon Neutrality plan” and achieve 100% carbon neutral status by June 30.

Australian Mines, which is developing the Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in Queensland, Australia, aims to become certified Carbon Neutral, under the Australian Government’s Climate Active Program, through reducing the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting its remaining carbon-generating activity, it said.

“Making the decision to become carbon neutral is part of Australian Mines’ ongoing commitment to building a sustainable business that incorporates leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices,” the company said.

The move follows the approval of the company’s membership of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) in March 2020. The IRMA is an independent third-party organisation that verifies and certifies socially and environmentally responsible mining, according to Australian Mines, with the company now working towards IRMA certification specifically for the Sconi project.

Australian Mines aims to invest A$1 billion ($604,020) to build a commercial battery metals production plant on the Sconi site. The proposed plant is expected to process 2 Mt/y of ore into battery-grade cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate, with scandium recovery and production of high purity scandium oxide, it says. Over the life of the proposed Sconi project, 1.4 Mt of nickel sulphate and 200,000 t of cobalt sulphate is due to be produced.

Australian Mines Managing Director, Benjamin Bell, said being 100% carbon neutral was an extension of the company’s commitment to taking a leading position on ESG.

“It will follow on from the approval in March 2020 of our membership of IRMA and Sconi being given ‘Prescribed project’ status in early 2019 by the Queensland Government, which is a recognition of our commitment to the communities where we operate,” he said.

Australian Mines is partnering with Pangolin, which works with the Australian Government’s Climate Active Program, to develop a Carbon Neutrality plan. Australian Mines said it expected to begin implementing its plan by June 30 and be formally certified carbon neutral by the government before the end of the year.

Bell added: “We will join more than 90 organisations across Australia that have attained certified carbon neutrality, leading to over 15 Mt of carbon emissions being offset, or the equivalent of 4 million cars being off the road for a year.”

ICMM ups the ESG ante with new Mining Principles

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has launched its enhanced membership requirements – ICMM’s Mining Principles – which now include site-level validation and transparent disclosure.

These requirements seek to maximise the industry’s benefits to host communities and minimise negative impacts to effectively manage issues of concern to society, it said.

ICMM’s Mining Principles define good practice environmental, social and governance requirements for the mining and metals industry through a comprehensive set of performance expectations, the ICMM said. Validation of the implementation of the performance expectations takes place at the site-level for all members’ assets. Validation involves a mix of self-assessments and independent, third-party assessments, coupled with transparent disclosure of the outcomes.

The council said: “ICMM’s Mining Principles are aligned with the objectives of other responsible sourcing initiatives. They establish a high bar for sustainability practices that many of our member companies currently apply to manage a broad range of sustainability issues at the operational level.”

As a condition of membership for ICMM company members, ICMM’s Mining Principles will apply to roughly 650 assets in over 50 countries.

Aidan Davy, COO of ICMM, said: “Mining and metals are critically important to society – as a catalyst for sustainable social and economic progress and as essential materials for the technologies needed to address climate change – but they must be produced responsibly.

“Societal expectations of the mining industry encompass a broad range of environmental, social and governance challenges. Our aim has been to develop a holistic set of requirements that establish a benchmark for responsible mining practices.”

Davy explained that ICMM’s Mining Principles would support its members to supply the increasing demand for metals and minerals, while giving confidence to customers and other stakeholders that they have been produced responsibly.

“We encourage all mining companies to embrace good practice environmental, social and governance requirements,” he said.

In 2003, ICMM published its 10 Principles for sustainable development to set a standard of ethical performance for its members. Building on this, in early April 2018, ICMM launched a global public consultation on the introduction of a comprehensive set of performance expectations for how members should be expected to manage a broad range of sustainability issues.

The resulting enhanced Mining Principles strengthen social and environmental requirements on issues such as labour rights, resettlement, gender, access to grievance mechanisms, mine closure, pollution and waste.

To read more about the principles, click here.

RPMGlobal adds to ESG capabilities

RPMGlobal says it has bolstered its in-house environmental, social and governance (ESG) capabilities with the appointment of Luke Stephens as Principal Social Specialist for the company’s Consulting & Advisory division.

Stephens, a mining social performance professional with more than 20 years’ of international experience, has a strong track record in social licence, community relations, social performance, multi-stakeholder partnerships, grievance management, government and donor relations, according to RPMGlobal.

Prior to joining RPMGlobal, Stephens was the Principal Closure and Sustainability Specialist for Afrique Gold and worked with Newcrest Mining as Superintendent for Social Performance. He also spent numerous years with aid and humanitarian agency, Concern Worldwide.

Since 1998, he has implemented best-practice community programs in mining and alongside local communities across Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, according to RPMGlobal.

Philippe Baudry, RPMGlobal’s Executive General Manager – Advisory Services, said the appointment reflected the company’s increased investment in ESG capabilities.

“Environmental, social and governance matters are now at the top of the corporate agenda which is being reflected in increased demand for our environmental and social due diligence expertise,” he said.

“We are certainly witnessing more mining companies investing in building sustainable ESG opportunities that create positive outcomes and mitigate project risk with the demand from investors for transparency in these critical areas of project development only increasing.

“This new appointment is a valuable addition to our expanding ESG team and Luke’s combined skillset will prove invaluable to RPMGlobal as we continue to expand our offerings and drive positive impact for global mining communities and their investors.”

RPMGlobal’s ESG division specialises in environmental and social due diligence evaluations and audits of mining projects located throughout the world with projects completed in Australia, the Americas, Africa, Turkey, Russia and the CIS countries.

“RPMGlobal’s growing ESG team has significant experience in advising its clients in how to bring projects up to IFC-PS and Equator Principle 4 requirements, as well as in the laws and regulations applicable in most mining jurisdictions with expertise spanning environmental and social action plans, social licence, community engagement, local consultation, land acquisition, compliance with regional and national regulations, grievance redress and management,” RPMGlobal said.

Denver-based Stephens said: “To join a growing and talented team of professionals at a company which is a leader in the ESG field is a fantastic opportunity and it’s exciting to come on board at such a pivotal time of growth for this division at RPMGlobal.”

Baudry added: “RPMGlobal prides itself in providing high quality ESG services that lead to improved financial, environmental and social outcomes for our mining customers and its pleasing to be expanding the team with highly credentialed appointments alongside our commitment.”

Newmont lauded for leading ESG practices

Newmont, this week, has been recognised by a trio of independent organisations for its management performance and social responsibility, action on climate-related issues and advancing women in the workplace.

The leading gold miner, which is scheduled to produce 6.4 Moz of gold in 2020, ranked as the top mining company on FORTUNE’s 2020 list of the World’s Most Admired Companies based on an in-depth global survey conducted by the magazine. It posted strong scores across several dimensions, including quality of management, social responsibility, long-term investment, people management and innovation, it said.

At the same time as this, for 2019, Newmont earned a ‘B’ in CDP’s (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) Climate Change assessment, reflecting the company’s coordinated action on climate issues.

“Newmont was recognised for strong climate governance and financial planning in response to climate-related impacts,” the miner said, adding that it ranked above average for all responders in the metallic minerals mining sector and all business sectors in North America and globally.

For the second consecutive year, Newmont was also included in Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the company’s efforts to advance qualified women in the workplace. Newmont is one of 325 companies, spanning 50 industries globally, to be included in this year’s GEI.

Tom Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Continuing to thrive in our next 100 years will require strong and transparent corporate governance, responsible environmental stewardship, and a diverse and inclusive workplace that allows us to attract and retain top talent.

“Aligning our business strategy with the interests of our shareholders and stakeholders through leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices is key to creating sustainable, long-term value in the years and decades ahead.”

In December, Newmont was ranked the top mining company in Newsweek’s first-ever list of America’s Most Responsible Companies for 2020. Of the 300 businesses selected for inclusion in Newsweek’s index, the company placed 39th overall.

This followed, in September 2019, Newmont being named the top global gold mining company on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the fifth consecutive year, being the overall mining and metals industry leader for four of those years.

MineHub adds commodity trade finance expert to blockchain platform

MineHub has added London-based asset management company Kimura Capital to its growing consortium of industry participants.

The news comes just a few weeks after the technology platform to improve efficiency in trading operations and environmental and social governance (ESG) compliance in mining and metals supply chains confirmed it was ready for its first blockchain customers.

Kimura, a specialist in commodity trade finance with expertise in financing complex logistical operations, is a member of the Alternative Investment Management Association.

“Kimura’s experience in finance will provide another important source of financial liquidity within the mining and metals ecosystem,” MineHub said. “The partnership with MineHub will be instrumental in driving the innovation within the industry.”

The company continued: “With financial institutions adapting to a changing regulatory environment, the provision of alternative finance plays an increasingly important role in facilitating the availability of credit, not just for trade finance, but also project and institutional finance. Improving access to capital is therefore a core part of the MineHub value proposition and a key area of focus is on enabling an integrated mix of institutional and alternative finance actors to provide new financing structures.”

MineHub has been working on this technology platform in collaboration with IBM and leaders across the mining supply chain including ING Group, Wheaton Precious Metals, Ocean Partners USA, Kutcho Copper, Capstone Mining and White & Case LLP. It went live earlier this month, with the company saying initial usage and transactions with consortium members was anticipated to commence within the next few weeks.

Arnoud Star Busmann, CEO of MineHub, said having Kimura on board as a consortium member is very strategic for MineHub.

“Offering optionality in financing sources is core to our strategy and Kimura is a clear leader in this sector, both in size and diversity, as well as their commitment to innovation, technology and sustainability.”

He added: “Working with Kimura and their peers, in conjunction with commercial banks and other financial institutions, MineHub will improve the working capital options and costs for miners, traders and other users. Our solutions will serve both large corporates and SMEs within the market, whilst contributing to responsible supply chains by linking risk pricing to ESG profiles of minerals.”

Kristofer Tremaine, CEO and Founder of Kimura Capital, said digitisation is the future for the market.

“Kimura has developed its business by selecting best-in-class partners in order to strengthen its overall offering. We are delighted to begin a partnership with MineHub whom have outstanding potential and represent Kimura’s first cooperation in the digitisation of commodity trade flows.”

MineHub added: “Digitalisation, transparency and automation will help reduce operational and fraud risks, thereby lowering the barriers to entry for alternative financing sources. Increased operational efficiencies and automation of ESG compliance will enable alternative financing houses to serve more clients without increasing operations and overheads.”

Miners still need social licence for their autonomous vehicles, Wilson says

Mining companies embracing automation and technological innovation must be also be aware of the possible implications for their social licence to operate, according to a social performance specialist.

Dr Ceit Wilson, who has more than eight years of professional experience in addressing the social and development challenges of the extractive resources industry, says there are risks around the future of technology and employment, especially from a social perspective.

Dr Wilson will address the issue in a presentation at this year’s International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne in October – Australia’s largest mining event.

Issues around social licence to operate and sustainable mining principles will be a key focus for the three-day conference with a dedicated workshop and two conference sessions covering the topic.

Environmental health and safety, social licence, sustainability, staff retention and skills development are also among the topics set to be discussed in the free to attend Collaboration Theatre, one of five concurrent conferences at IMARC.

“I intend to use my presentation at IMARC to bring attention to the fact that the while the mining industry is positively benefiting from automation and technology innovation, we need to address the question of how technological change will impact the host communities in which they operate,” Dr Wilson said.

“This is somewhat of a paradox given that gaining and maintaining a ‘social licence to operate’ is one of the key challenges currently facing the sector.

“We know it is no longer enough for mining companies to simply meet the formal obligations of an ‘environmental licence’ to extract resources.

“They are increasingly expected to behave responsibly and make a positive contribution to the communities in which they operate.

“One of the main ways mining companies seek to deliver this social value to regional communities is through the provision of local employment and business development opportunities.

“The concern is that automation technology may disrupt this positive trend. We are already seeing major mine operations in Western Australia and Queensland replacing human operators with autonomous trucks and robotics, and shifting control centres to the capital cities, miles away from where actual mining takes place.

“And yet industry has been silent on the potential risks that these future technologies may pose for communities and broader stakeholders.

“Disregarding these risks may leave companies ill equipped to respond to social impacts when they occur, with potential consequences for their relationship and trust with communities.

“Any company that is genuinely committed to protecting their social licence to operate will need to carefully consider and reassess how their projects will continue to deliver social value to the regional communities in which they operate if, as a result of automation, local employment and procurement opportunities are no longer as readily available.

“Maintaining a social licence will require balance and attention to alternative ways in which social value can be delivered.

“This may include a consideration of alternative livelihood or benefit sharing models, or a greater focus on the transfer and sharing of industry’s knowledge of technology through training and education programs.”

IMARC will be held from October 29-31 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC