Tag Archives: sustainability

EY Canada bolsters ESG service offering with AFARA acquisition

EY Canada has welcomed AFARA and its team of multidisciplinary consultants to the firm to deepen existing resources and expertise in sustainability, and environment, social and governance (ESG) services.

With presence in Toronto and Calgary, Canada, AFARA provides leading public and private sector organisations with solutions – grounded in actionable insight – that make lasting improvements in sustainability performance, EY Canada says.

“Businesses around the world are now embracing societal change and sustainable development as road maps to long-term success – and we are excited to play a role in that journey,” Kent Kaufield, Chief Sustainability Officer and ESG Markets Leader at EY Canada, says. “At the end of the day, sustainability is everybody’s business. With AFARA, we look forward to helping clients build resilient, sustainable companies and economies, while furthering the energy transition.”

Dan Zilnik, President at AFARA, said: “It’s incredible to be joining an organisation so focused on culture, values and solving some of the world’s most meaningful, complex problems.”

For nearly 20 years, EY teams have built a legacy in providing sustainability and ESG services. Now, with AFARA joining the EY-Parthenon practice, the firm will provide clients with enhanced end-to-end services that address the increasing ESG challenges organizations face today, it said.

Dave Rogers, Canadian Strategy Leader at EY-Parthenon, said: “From setting greenhouse gas reduction targets, to turning carbon dioxide pollution into valuable products and scaling up transformational recycling technologies, we’re helping leaders reframe their sustainability strategy to help protect and create value for business, people, society and the world. This investment is a testament to firm’s commitment to accelerating climate action, and empowering its people and clients do the same.”

Antucoya becomes Antofagasta’s third operation to achieve The Copper Mark

Antucoya has joined the Centinela and Zaldívar operations in becoming the third Antofagasta operation to obtain The Copper Mark, with the Los Pelambres mine expected to follow suit.

After voluntarily completing a self-assessment process and then undergoing an independent audit, Antucoya was granted the mark, becoming the ninth mine in Chile and the 29th in the world to receive The Copper Mark.

“We are very pleased to continue to make progress towards achieving our goal of obtaining The Copper Mark at all our operations,” Iván Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta plc, said. “In 2021, Centinela and Zaldívar received it, now Antucoya has, and we hope that soon Los Pelambres will also receive it.”

The Copper Mark offers workers, investors, copper end-users and communities a simple and credible way to verify that a company has sustainable practices, based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The accreditation process includes on-site audits where a company has to demonstrate compliance with 32 criteria over five categories: business and human rights, community, labour and working conditions, environment and governance.

Having granted Antucoya this seal, The Copper Mark will conduct another review within 12 months, and then, every three years thereafter, it will carry out new evaluations to certify compliance with all the criteria included in the certification.

Leonardo González, Antucoya’s General Manager, added: “We are very proud to obtain this seal just days after celebrating our fifth anniversary as a company. People, sustainability and transparency are paramount to the way we produce copper and develop mining for a better future.”

The International Copper Association (ICA) began work on The Copper Mark initiative in 2017 in response to growing demands from investors, banks, suppliers and NGOs for information on the environmental, social and governance performance of copper producers. The Copper Mark has been independent of the ICA since December 2019.

RSK Group increases mining sector exposure with Projence acquisition

RSK Group Limited, a sustainable solutions company, says it has added New South Wales-based integrated project management firm, Projence, to its rapidly growing Australian business.

The third acquisition in the last eight months and fourth overall in Australia, Projence joins three Australian companies – civil engineering company, Western Project Services; environmental and occupational hygiene business, EDP Consultants; and advisory and project delivery services firm, SJA.

Joining the RSK Group, Projence will further grow the group’s project management and commercial services capabilities within the region and expand its global portfolio of environmental, engineering and technical solutions businesses, the company says.

“As we continue to build on the good work RSK has accomplished in the last three decades, strategic acquisitions such as Projence will bring enhanced value to the table for our stakeholders and businesses and further expand our offerings,” Alan Ryder, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RSK Group, said. “With the comprehensive end-to-end solutions synergised and backed by the expertise of our group of over 150 businesses, I am confident that RSK will continue to secure our position as a global leader in the delivery of sustainable solutions, bringing clients the best value with minimum negative environmental and social impact.”

The acquisition of Projence strengthens the capabilities of the group in the rail and port sectors, enables greater exposure for RSK into the mining sector, and comes shortly after a move by EDP Consultants to expand into the Hunter region of New South Wales. The Hunter region and the wider northern New South Wales area are key parts of the RSK Group’s expansion strategy, it says.

Established in 2011, Projence has provided clients in Australia with practical and results-focused engineering and commercial greenfield and brownfield solutions across a range of industries, including mining, property, rail, power generation and port. It has worked on over 250 projects amounting to over A$1 billion ($709 million) in capital value, including the Coal Export Terminal 3 a

Gavin Heydon, Director of Projence, said: “This acquisition adds value to our business in the region and helps us lay out a clear path to long-term sustainable growth. With RSK’s support and guidance, we look forward to becoming an integral part of a larger global company and laying down a stronger foundation for services that we provide.”

Pictured is Mitchell Purvis (left) and Gavin Heydon (right), Projence Directors

Maptek invests in ESG-focused K2fly

Maptek has announced a strategic investment in Western Australian-based K2fly, a leading provider of resource governance solutions for net positive impact in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) compliance, disclosure and technical assurance, it said.

K2fly solutions aim to improve the transparency, sustainability and performance across a range of measures such as governance, environmental and community engagement through its platform-based SaaS cloud reporting solutions, Maptek says.

As part of the investment Maptek Chairman, Peter Johnson, will join the K2fly board as a Non-Executive Director.

“Maptek is very pleased with the opportunity to become a strategic investor in K2fly,” Johnson said. “We have a long and successful history of delivering technical solutions that increase the accuracy, safety and efficiency of decision-making for miners.

“K2fly solutions complement our approach, enabling our customers to interact with all stakeholders including local communities, traditional owners, the investment community, regulators and the environment in an improved fashion.

 “They do this by leveraging technology to ensure the ESG and reporting expectations of the community are met, as well as providing a sustainable platform for enhancement.

K2fly is the leader in the field of creating and delivering the technology solutions to enable that, and sharing our expertise is the ideal way for Maptek to support that effort.”

Jenny Cutri, Non-Executive Chair of K2fly, welcomed Maptek as a strategic investor in K2fly and Johnson to the K2fly Board.

“The investment by Maptek makes it K2fly’s largest investor and represents a significant validation of the K2fly business and growth outlook by the world’s largest privately held mining software business,” Cutri said.

“On behalf of K2fly and the Board, we very much look forward to working with Peter and Maptek as we continue to grow the K2fly business.

”Peter’s wealth of knowledge in applying and scaling innovative technological solutions in the mining sector into sustainable and profitable businesses will be invaluable to K2fly. Further, our solutions are adjacent and there are many opportunities for collaboration.”

Epiroc shows off sustainability credentials in another record quarter

In a quarter characterised by high customer activity and a strong demand for aftermarket services, Epiroc had another reason to be positive with the validation of its 2030 sustainability goals by the influential Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Further records were broken in the December quarter – this time it was revenue (coming in at SEK11.1 billion (US$1.19 billion) and operating profit (coming in at SEK2.59 billion) – as the company continued to benefit from its in-house efficiency programs; value-added automated, electric and digitalised offering; and strong order pipeline.

At the same time, Epiroc’s sustainability credentials were shown off for the world to see between October 1 and December 31.

In addition to the SBTi validation, over this period, the company laid out plans at its Capital Markets Day for its third battery-electric retrofit project, the Minetruck MT436B; secured its first order for Scooptram ST1030 battery conversion kits from Evolution Mining’s Red Lake gold operations in Canada (on top of the delivery of new ST14 Battery LHDs); extended its range of flexible charging products for battery-electric mining equipment; and announced a project with Boliden and ABB to develop a next-generation battery trolley setup for the Kristineberg mine in Sweden.

The only thing that was missing from this packed three-month period was the launch of a brand-new battery-electric machine, yet this will come. Epiroc has plans to electrify its full fleet of underground load and haul equipment by 2025 – including battery-electric retrofit solutions for its existing diesel fleet – alongside electrifying its surface fleet by 2030.

In line with SBTi requirements, Epiroc is committing to halve its absolute CO2 emissions in its own operations – so called Scope 1 and Scope 2 – by 2030, with 2019 as base year. However, more than 99% of Epiroc’s total CO2 emissions are other indirect emissions, with about 83% of the total coming from when customers use the products. It has, therefore, committed to halve the absolute CO2 emissions from use of sold products – so called Scope 3 – by 2030.

“This is industry leading and well above SBTi’s minimum requirements,” Epiroc said of the Scope 3 target. “The transition from diesel-powered to battery-electric machines will make a significant impact.”

Does this mean Epiroc will turn off the diesel-powered taps at a certain point, saying it will only supply electric equipment to customers?

Mattias Olsson, Senior VP of Corporate Communications, says no such action is planned, explaining that these Scope 3 targets align broadly with its mining customer base’s own CO2 emission cut goals. The majors all have plans to decarbonise their operations, with the most ambitious looking to hit net zero in 2030-2035. Codelco, for example, plans to electrify all its underground operations by 2030.

Demand for this equipment is bound to be high, which is where Epiroc’s retrofit program could become crucial.

Designed to allow miners an ‘entry point’ into cutting emissions underground through its in-demand midlife rebuild program, Olsson said supply of these machines could accelerate the industry’s electrification uptake and provide quicker access to zero emissions equipment compared with the long lead times that come with new battery-electric machines.

In a market that is becoming increasingly crowded, such an option may differentiate Epiroc from the rest of its peers, in the process, helping it achieve its ambitious goals to help keep global warming at a maximum 1.5° C.

Hindustan Zinc accelerates growth plans as it partners with industry leaders

Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL), a Vedanta Group Company and the world’s second largest integrated producer of zinc and lead, is in acceleration mode, embarking on aggressive expansion and collaboration plans with technology and innovation partners from across the globe.

One of the first mining companies to commit to going “Net Zero” by 2050, it has a strong focus on ESG reinforced by plans to deploy battery-electric vehicles, tap into more solar and wind power potential and recycle waste heat from its captive power plants. Such ambitions are being delivered with up to $1 billion of finance in the next five years to “go green” and, by 2025, achieve focused sustainability goals.

At the same time as it is looking to become an ESG leader, it is boosting its mine and metal production by leveraging “smart mining” and an extensive resource and reserve base.

IM put some questions to Arun Misra, Hindustan Zinc CEO, to find out how the company intends to deliver on its lofty ambitions.

IM: HZL’s 2021 financial year to March 31, 2021, was characterised by record production volumes and profitability; how were you able to achieve such results given the COVID-19-affected constraints on your operations?

AM: The uncertainty has evolved continuously. If I give you an example, we started the year with the uncertainty of COVID only; that is people getting infected leading to absenteeism. It was so contagious, it spread so fast, half of our workforce were down. So, that struck us heavily, but, nevertheless, because we had experience of last year, and this time there was no lockdown of industry, we were able to figure out how to manage and we did manage well, compared to last year’s same quarter, which was also COVID-affected. We had introduced various measures to change the way of working to ensure a safer working environment for the employees. We also got our workforce vaccinated along with their families to further minimise the risks associated with the pandemic.

Hindustan Zinc CEO, Arun Misra, says Hindustan Zinc has been at the forefront of ensuring personal health, be it of its employees or local communities

Furthermore, the automation and digitalisation efforts at Hindustan Zinc are equipped to better withstand these testing times while ensuring quick revival to a normal level of operations.

IM: During the height of the pandemic, HZL – like other socially responsible mining companies – supported communities within or close by to its operations. Can you highlight some of the actions you took over this period and what impact they had?

AM: We at Hindustan Zinc have been at the forefront of ensuring personal health, be it of our employees or local communities. We have gone beyond and extended our support to the state of Rajasthan and the nation at large by contributing significantly to the PM Cares Fund and Rajasthan Chief Minister Relief Fund.

To meet the requirement of oxygen during the second wave of the pandemic, we had set up an oxygen bottling plant at our Dariba unit (Rajsamand district) in a record time of five days and had supplied over 14,000 cylinders of medical oxygen. We even arranged 500 oxygen concentrators to be imported and distributed for use across the state.

We had provided an insulated vaccine van to the Udaipur district medical health office to support a smooth vaccination drive and extended support to the local health administrations, by disinfecting villages by spraying and fumigating with sodium hypochlorite solution and providing medical gear like masks, sanitisers and PPE to local communities.

We even constructed an 8,000 sq.m air-conditioning dome hospital, based on German technology, which has a capacity of 100 beds – including 20 ICU beds – to accommodate patients and provide them with essential COVID treatment and medical facilities.

IM: ESG is obviously a major focus area for HZL, as these examples illustrate. Where specifically are you investing in your mining, power and smelting operations to make them more environmentally friendly?

AM: As a COP26 business leader, we have always been active in tackling the repercussions of climate change and have a strong focus on reducing carbon emissions. We are pioneers in India, declaring our ambition to convert all our mining equipment to battery-operated electric vehicles and will invest $1 billion over the next five years to make our mining operations environmentally friendly.

We are continuously expanding our renewable power of 274 MW of wind and 40 MW of solar under our greenhouse gas reduction goals by converting 50% of our total power to renewable forms in the next five years. We are among the only two metal and mining companies globally – and among four Indian companies – to be part of the coveted CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) ‘A List’ 2020.

Furthermore, we have even published our first Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) Report this year and have also joined the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) forum to understand nature-related risks and opportunities and accelerate the transition towards a nature-positive and carbon-neutral future.

We have set Sustainability Development Goals to 2025 for ourselves where we are aiming towards sustainable operations for a greener tomorrow.

Hindustan Zinc has embarked on a major growth push at its mining operations with six ongoing expansion projects that will see over 100 km of tunnels developed for underground infrastructure and ore access

IM: At the same time as this, HZL has embarked on a major growth push at your mining operations with six ongoing expansion projects that will see over 100 km of tunnels developed for underground infrastructure and ore access. How are you able to balance your sustainable expansion plans with pledges to reduce your overall footprint?

AM: We strive for operational excellence and cost efficiencies and continue to stay on the growth track while being equally cognisant of our environmental, social and governance commitments, as well as our sustainability goals. We are leveraging more digitalisation and automation than we ever have, as well as engaging with technology leaders to do ‘more with less’.

The SmartDrive equipment we plan to use enables higher productivity, lower operating costs and, most importantly, zero local emissions, featuring in-built energy recuperation technology to make the most of regenerative braking energy during downhill driving and deceleration.

Being a power-intensive business, our key focus is always on reducing dependence on non-renewable sources of energy and enhancing our renewable power base.

IM: How important has it been to partner with like-minded technology and solution providers to ensure you meet these ambitious goals? Can you provide some examples here?

AM: We always look for partners who align with our philosophy of running sustainable operations to achieve company goals. We don’t need one-off solutions from companies to meet our targets; we need companies that will engage throughout our medium- and long-term projects and provide an element of customisation that factors in the realities of operating in our underground mines. We look for global partners to work with us where we exchange ideas, insights and knowledge with them in our growth journey.

We believe in providing opportunities to our business partners to leverage collaboration on technology, innovation and digitalisation, for long-term value creation and mutual growth.

To support our expansion plan, it is crucial for Hindustan Zinc to collaborate with mine development and operation partners who share a similar vision to ours, which is to leverage cutting-edge technology to create a positive impact on the entire mining fraternity. We are currently working with companies like Sandvik, Epiroc, Normet, Barminco, RCT, Siemens, etc as our global partners. We have engaged with them to provide end-to-end solutions rather than sourcing a specific supply or service.

Hindustan Zinc has given an equal platform for women engineers in its mining operations, appointing India’s first female underground mine manager in 2021

IM: You have already stated a goal of 1.5 Mt/y of zinc production in the upcoming years and extending your lead as India’s largest integrated zinc-lead producer; what is your vision for the company to 2030 and beyond?

AM: We are excited about our next phase of expansion to take mining capacity from 1.2 Mt per annum to 1.35 Mt/a. We will surely cross 1 Mt and we should be above our guidance if we achieve the desired run rates in our third and fourth quarters.

While our growth plans are a key part of the company’s future, we are also focused on becoming the leading zinc-lead-silver producer from an environmental, social and governance point of view. Our DJSI Ranking of being among the Top 5 companies in the metal and mining sector is testament to this. We are already winning significant awards for our ESG and CSR efforts, and expect this recognition to continue and grow as we head towards mapping out our 2025 sustainability goals.

Also, the mining value chain is changing across the globe and more consumers are becoming aware of the origins of the products they buy and the emissions that come with their production.

To collaborate with Hindustan Zinc on its green growth mission, email [email protected]

RPMGlobal to create Emissions Management Software solution with Eden Suite deal

RPMGlobal (RPM) has entered into an agreement with Eden Suite Pty Ltd to acquire a copy of its Environmental Data Management and Reporting Software, Eden Suite.

This acquisition provides RPM with the exclusive worldwide rights to the intellectual property in the Eden Suite software for use in the mining and quarrying industries, along with the ability to extend and integrate the use of the software inside RPM’s suite of software products, it said.

This latest announcement follows closely from the recent acquisitions by RPM of two environmental, social and governance (ESG) consulting and advisory businesses – Blueprint Environmental Strategies and Nitro Solutions.

This acquisition, RPMGlobal says, is strategically important as it will be the first software solution within a brand-new Sustainability vertical in the technology division.

Richard Mathews, RPMGlobal’s CEO, stated, “RPM’s ESG consulting and advisory division has an enviable reputation in ESG matters and the establishment of a dedicated technology vertical focused on ESG technology will further bolster their credentials.

“RPM has a lot of ESG capability already built into its software products to address topics such as emissions simulation, disturbance scheduling/reporting and avoidance zoning. This strategic acquisition provides RPM’s mining customers with a proven ESG focused solution that has been specifically built and tailored for the sole purposes of supporting users with their environmental management and reporting requirements.”

Eden Suite has been supporting carbon management for almost 10 years and was initially developed to capture the fundamental mechanics of annual emissions reporting. This capability can also be applied to the annual National Pollutant Inventories (NPI) and other regulatory greenhouse gas emission reporting requirements. It does this by streamlining the capture of usages for anything that creates an emission output for an organisation, RPMGlobal explained. Usages of emissions sources can be manually entered or automatically integrated through direct data linkages.

The solution has been designed to make it easier for organisations to proactively track, forecast and subsequently report their emissions outputs.

“One of the major challenges faced by miners with emissions reporting is that of data capture, which is a critical component of the regulatory reporting framework,” the company said. “Eden Suite is configured to mirror how an organisation operates. Data is captured in a manner allowing for auditability and transparency, ensuring material disclosures in relation to carbon are accurately calculated and reported.”

RPM’s Emissions Management solution will be entirely web-based, and cloud delivered and is configured to reflect an organisation’s asset hierarchy. Inputs are then measured by vehicle, fleet or at an individual asset level allowing granular reporting and flexibility of changes which is important for historical and auditable reporting.

Mathews continued: “Mining organisations are being required to undertake an increasing amount of time-sensitive statutory reporting for ESG and this can no longer be reliably delivered through the use of Excel spreadsheets. With the RPM Emissions Management Software solution, a site or an entire organisation can generate annualised emissions submissions that can be summarised into daily emissions trends per activity or even source. Having a solution with real-time data capture allows mining clients to proactively monitor and manage their progress across Scope 1, 2 and 3 inventories.”

Eden Suite’s CEO, Peter Robertson, stated: “RPM is ideally positioned within the mining industry to further the growth of this software solution within that market. RPM is an industry leader in the mining consulting and advisory space and has a proven track record developing and integrating technology. We are pleased to have such a strong partnership with such a respected and progressive company.”

Sandvik Chile becomes renewable energy champion with IE seal from IMELSA

Sandvik Chile says it has obtained the IE seal, certifying that it obtains 100% renewable and environmentally friendly electricity supply for its Santiago de Chile site.

On December 6, Sandvik Chile obtained the IE seal certification from IMELSA, validating it as a renewable energy frontrunner at national level, Sandvik said.

The award ceremony, held at Sandvik’s facilities in Santiago de Chile, was attended by 30 senior representatives from its own organisation, together with those from IMELSA handing over the IE seal (pictured from left to right are: Alejandro Espriella – BLM Rock Tools, Cristian Niklitschek – PU Manager, Julio Phillips – EHS Manager ANSCO, Jocelyn Black – IMELSA Energía Commercial and Corporate Affairs Manager, John Daly – IMELSA Energía Assistant Manager, Patricio Apablaza – VP Sales Area Ansco, and Alejandro Guzmán – Sandvik Santigo Site Administration Chief).

IMELSA Energy has long been at the forefront of the Chilean national energy market, aiming to offer internally generated and renewable supplies for energy and back-up systems. The IMELSA IE seal, therefore, certifies that a company obtains its energy from renewable sources and confirms its commitment to the environment as a sustainable supplier.

At the award ceremony, Patricio Apablaza, Sandvik’s Vice President for Sales Area Andean & South Cone, said: “We are very pleased to have obtained the IE Seal for Renewable Energies. Sandvik’s aim is zero harm to our people and the environment in which we work and operate. Our 2030 Sustainable Business Goals are Climate, Circularity, People and Fair Play, and this recognition by IMELSA is very much aligned with those goals.”

The IE seal for the use of renewable energies is just one of several actions that Sandvik has taken in recent times to position itself as a national benchmark in the use of environmentally-friendly energy. “This award, together with our use of electric taxis, underlines our constant commitment to the environment and use of renewable energy sources and confirms our ongoing focus on sustainability moving forward,” Apablaza said.

CRC ORE, CSIRO look at broadening pre-concentration tech applications

CRC ORE and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, have formed a Future Research Program to, they say, take CRC ORE’s most promising fields of research into new areas to broaden the impact on the Australian mining industry and economy.

This work will boost the sustainability of the mining industry by helping reduce energy and water consumption, generation of tailings and residues, the physical footprint of operations, as well as optimise the extraction of valuable minerals from resources, the companies said.

The Future Research Program, launched in September 2021, will ensure the work of CRC ORE and its research continues to benefit the Australian mining industry.

The program will expand upon CRC ORE’s foundation research into the development of ore pre-concentration technologies that can be deployed within the mine and ahead of the mineral processing plant. The new research scope will investigate ways to apply these principles further down the mining value chain, targeting smaller particle sizes and a wider range of ore types.

Focus areas will include:

  • Incorporating the principles of Selective Breakage into the design and operation of comminution circuits;
  • Optimising ore feed to coarse and fine particle separators to enhance their performance;
  • Step change reductions in energy and water intensity; and
  • Developing new options for sustainable management of waste material

CRC ORE’s former General Manager of Research and Innovation, Paul Revell, who is now overseeing the program at CSIRO, said, if successful, the research will increase the number of potential locations where pre-concentration can be deployed, providing a larger overall impact for the minerals industry.

“Our aim is to extend the resource base that pre-concentration can be applied to,” Revell said. “The pre-concentration technology developed through CRC ORE is currently best suited to structurally controlled, vein-hosted ores, however these only represent about one third of the resource base on average.

“A key ambition of the new program is, therefore, to initiate research into technologies that can pre-concentrate disseminated ores. This group of ore types can be difficult to pre-concentrate with contemporary mineral processing technology, however they host a significant proportion of valuable base and precious metals.”

Revell said some 3% of global direct energy consumption is used in the mining industry just in crushing rock, so if pre-concentration technology could be applied more broadly across the resource base, it would have a wider global environmental and economic impact.

“The opportunity is to develop more energy efficient crushing and grinding processes that are integrated with a pre-concentration capability, to remove as much barren material from the ore as possible prior to subjecting the remaining ore to energy and water intensive fine grinding and concentration processes,” he said. “We’re focusing on the largest energy consuming portion of the mining value chain.”

Revell said it was important to note that the program is initially small scale and aims to undertake preliminary research into these areas that others could then build upon.

The program will be run for an initial three years with the possibility for extension through continuing industry sponsorship and collaboration.

“We will explore opportunities to engage with the mining industry to build a self-sustaining and on-going applied research portfolio in this field to advance promising developments to commercialisation,” Revell said.

“We are fortunate to have CSIRO as a research partner who are supportive, share this vision, and have a depth of research capability and excellent facilities.”

The program will also support CRC ORE’s mission to help build a highly skilled workforce for the nation amid an ongoing skills shortage in the resources sector. It will initially support a number of Research Higher Degree scholarships, which will be fully funded and placed across several selected Australian universities.

“One of CRC ORE’s key objectives has always been to build research capacity across Australia, which it did very successfully during its government-funded term,” Revell said. “By taking this new seed research and offering higher degree students a Masters degree or a PhD, it will build capacity for the minerals industry as well as getting the work done. It’s a great outcome.”

CSIRO Mineral Resources’ A/Director, Dr Rob Hough, said CSIRO is looking forward to commencing activities within the Future Research Program, initiated in partnership with CRC ORE.

“The R&D focus areas align well with our existing initiatives and plans, which have significant potential to positively impact the Australian minerals industry,” Dr Hough said.

ERM on executing the mining sector’s sustainability strategies

With sustainability close to the number one topic shaping the business landscape, the mining industry faces perhaps more scrutiny today than ever before. From stakeholder engagement to employee welfare and the emissions generated from using mined commodities, there is a spectrum of issues on which mining companies are judged. Not just by traditional critics such as NGOs, but increasingly by policymakers, investors and consumers themselves.

As a result, mining companies are seeking the advice of consultants that live and breathe environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues to adapt to this evolving backdrop (see the mining consultants focus in IM October 2021 for more on this).

In this regard, they don’t come much bigger than ERM, which calls itself the largest global pure play sustainability consultancy. With a remit that goes into strategic, operational and tactical challenges, the company’s services have been in serious demand of late.

Louise Pearce, ERM Global Mining Lead; Jonathan Molyneux, ERM Mining ESG Strategy Lead; Peter Rawlings, Low Carbon Economy Transition Lead; and Geraint Bowden, Regional Client Director – Mining, were happy to go into some detail about how the company is serving the industry across multiple disciplines.

In demand

According to the four, there is increasing demand for services from miners interested in energy/battery minerals (lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, platinum, palladium and rhodium (PGMs)) on the back of rising numbers of new mines coming onto the scene, “shorter supply chains to customers”, the perceived need to secure domestic supply of these minerals, and requirements of “evidence of responsibly-produced certifications from industry organisations such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)”.

Such trends have been underwritten by a shift in both the requirements and considerations around the extraction of these minerals, according to Molyneux.

“In the last five to seven years, the main ESG incentives for change have come from access to capital (ie investor ESG preferences, especially in relation to catastrophic incidents),” he said.

“Over the last three years, we have seen a strong rise in expectations from downstream customers, particularly leading brands.”

Jonathan Molyneux, ERM Mining ESG Strategy Lead

Automotive original equipment manufacturers like BMW and Daimler are placing sustainability at the centre of their brands, according to ERM. Their initial focus has been on ‘net-zero’ driving/electrification – and they have made progress on this with several major electric car launches. They then shifted to examining the carbon emissions and ESG, or responsible practices, of tier-one and tier-two component manufacturers. The last step has been a full analysis of the ESG credentials of input materials right back to source, ie the mine.

“We see a shift from the historic lens of customers managing supply risk by sourcing from organisations which ‘do little/no harm’ (eg human rights compliance, catastrophic incident avoidance) to supply partners that can contribute to the ‘do net good’ or ‘create value for all stakeholders’ (ie communities, workforce, nature positive),” Pearce said.

Such a shift has resulted in more clients considering “circular thinking” in their operational strategy, as well as carrying out risk reviews and transformation projects focused on a company’s social or cultural heritage. Tied to this, these same companies have been evaluating their water use, biodiversity requirements and, of course, decarbonisation efforts.

It is the latter on which the steel raw materials companies predominantly have been looking for advice, according to ERM.

The focus has been on ‘green’ iron ore, low-carbon steel and ‘circular’ steel, according to Molyneux and Bowden, with ERM providing input on how companies in this supply chain can integrate sustainability into their strategy and operations.

On the thermal coal side, meanwhile, it is a very different type of ERM service in demand: mine retirements, closure/local/regional regeneration transitions and responsible disposals.

Delivering on decarbonisation

The mining industry decarbonisation targets have come thick and fast in the last 18-24 months, with the latest announcement from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) seeing all 28 mining and metals members sign up to a goal of net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Many have gone further than Scope 1 (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company) emissions, looking at including Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain) targets.

Fortescue Metals Group, this month, announced what it said is an industry-leading target to achieve net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2040, for example.

These are essential goals – and ones that all interested parties are calling for – in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement, yet many miners are not yet in the position to deliver on them, according to Pearce, Molyneux, Rawlings and Bowden.

“Miners need to look at decarbonisation at a holistic level across their operations and value chain, and cannot just delegate the net zero requirements to individual assets,” Rawlings said. “The solutions needed require investment and are often at a scale well beyond individual assets/sites.”

Much of this decarbonisation effort mirrors other industries, with the use of alternative fuels for plant and equipment, accessing renewable electricity supplies, etc, they said.

Process-specific activities can present challenges and is where innovation is required.

“These hard to abate areas are where a lot of efforts are currently focused,” Rawlings said.

Tied into this discussion is the allowance and estimates made for carbon.

There has been anecdotal evidence of miners taking account of carbon in annual and technical reports – a recent standout example being OZ Minerals inclusion of a carbon price in determining the valuation of its Prominent Hill shaft expansion project in South Australia – but there is no current legislation in place.

“We are seeing a broad spectrum of price and sophistication (targeted audience, knowledge level), but it is an active board level discussion for most clients,” Bowden said on this subject. “Most clients view this as market-driven requirements as opposed to a voluntary disclosure.”

This has been driven, in part, from the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which many miners – including all the majors – are aligning their reporting with.

Some clients are also looking into scenarios to work around carbon regimes such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which proposes a carbon-based levy on imports of specific products.

Having acquired several companies in recent months focused on the low carbon economy transition – such as E4tech, Element Energy and RCG – ERM feels best placed to provide the technical expertise and experience to deliver the sustainable energy solutions miners require to decarbonise their operations.

“With these companies, combined with ERM’s expertise, it means we can support clients on the decarbonisation journeys from the initial strategy and ambition development through to implementation and delivery of their roadmaps,” Rawlings said. “We can support clients from boots to boardroom as they assess decarbonisation options and technologies; help them understand the financial, policy and practical aspects linked to deployment of solutions; and access the financing necessary to support deployment.”

ESG dilemmas

There is more to this evolving backdrop than setting and meeting ambitious environmental goals, yet, in ERM’s experience, the advice provided by consultants – and requested by miners – has historically been focused on individual ESG domains.

“This has often been driven by their realisation that their (miner’s) in-house policies and standards require updating,” Pearce said.

Louise Pearce, ERM Global Mining Lead

A siloed or disaggregated approach to ESG strategy development often reduces risk, but rarely generates value for the enterprise at hand, according to Pearce.

“What we have learned is that in order for organisations to create value, they need to focus on value drivers for the corporation,” she said. “These value levers are typically influenced by an integrated suite of ESG dimensions. For example, this could be looking at carbon emissions, connected with water use and nature, connected with local socio-economic development.”

“Sustainability and ESG are about understanding the inter-relationships between our social, natural and economic environments over the longer term. It cannot be about addressing one topic at a time or responding to the loudest voices.”

This is where ERM’s ‘second-generation’ ESG advice, which is driven by data and opportunities to create value as well as manage risk, is fit for the task.

“We are also finding that, at its heart, the central issue to second-generation ESG performance delivery/improvement for our clients is not just the strategy, but a willingness of organisations to reflect on their core values, how these have driven their traditional approaches and decisions and how they will need to evolve these if they want to achieve a genuine brand and reputation for ESG and achieve impact on the value drivers they have selected,” she added.

Such thinking is proving definitive in ERM’s mining sector mergers and acquisition due diligence.

“We have multiple experiences where clients have asked us to carry out an ESG review of a target portfolio, only to find that there is too great a gap between the target’s ESG asset footprint to align them with the client’s standard – or, that the carbon, water, closure or tailings profile of the target carries a too high-risk profile,” Molyneux said.

This is presenting clients with a dilemma as they want to increase their exposure to certain minerals, but are, in some instances, finding M&A is a too high-risk route. At the same time, the lead time to find and develop their own new assets is longer than they would wish for building market share.

Such a market dynamic opens the door for juniors looking for assets early in their lifecycles, yet it places a high load on the management teams of these companies to think strategically about the ESG profile of the asset they are setting the foundations for to eventually appeal to a potential acquirer.

“This is, in itself, a dilemma because, typically, the cash scarcity at the junior stage leads management teams to focus on the immediate technical challenges, sometimes at the cost of also addressing the priority non-technical challenges,” Bowden said.

Those companies who can take a strategic view on the ESG requirements of the future – rooted in a deep understanding of how to deliver change on the ground – will be best placed in such a market, and ERM says it is on hand to provide the tools to develop such an appropriate approach.

(Lead photo credit: @Talaat Bakri, ERM)