Mining sector puts energy into ESG, but lacks focus on gender and diversity, says research
Energy efficiency has soared up the list of environmental priorities for the mining industry and now features in the top three for most companies, along with air and water pollution and waste management.
This is one of the key findings from a survey of global mining sector decision-makers published by mining executive search and recruitment consultant, Stratum International, and independent environmental, social and governance (ESG) accreditor, Digbee.
Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss come lower on the list of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors for many mining businesses, according to the new report.
And there’s a concerning lack of focus on gender and diversity for a sector that needs to change the perception that mining is a male-only environment. The issue is deemed the “least important” social priority for mining companies over the next two years.
Will Coetzer, founder and director at Stratum International, said: “The mining industry has a unique opportunity to set a new standard for ESG globally and be seen as a hero rather than a villain. Mining is critical to the energy transition. But businesses must put a solid ESG strategy at the centre of everything they do to attract new pools of capital for the sector and turn the tide on low levels of investment. Without an ESG strategy, mining firms will be hard-pressed to secure funding and shareholder confidence, and talented mining professionals are unlikely to want to work for such businesses.”
ESG not top of the agenda
The survey of mining professionals from 29 countries suggests that although ESG has become a key discipline within the industry, it is still not deemed important by 2% of respondents.
For the rest of the respondents, the biggest drivers for ESG are industry expectations (28%), pressure from stakeholders, investors and NGOs (26%), international standards related to ESG and sustainability (19%), and regulatory requirements (13%).
How important are environmental, social and governance?
The survey shows that nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents considered ESG important in decision-making at the board level, two-thirds (66%) thought it important to compare ESG credentials with others across the sector, and more than three out of five (63%) thought an independent analysis of ESG credentials was important.
Jamie Strauss, founder and CEO at Digbee, said: “There’s huge pressure from industry, investors and other stakeholders for mining firms to be more transparent and report their ESG strategies. It’s not enough to just set and communicate sustainable targets. It’s also key to show how mining companies are progressing to and achieving those goals.
“Failure to do so will negatively impact future investment opportunities. That’s why the winners will be the ones who swiftly address potential risks and quickly seize the opportunities for ESG innovation.”