There is an ever-increasing pressure on the mining industry to transparently disclose sustainability practices and metrics through various responsible mining initiatives and reporting requirements. Albeit a key need to drive and strengthen environmental and social performance and governance, this has created what one would term “The reporting burden”. These requirements are not going to reduce in the future, but rather become more complex as we seek to manage environmental and social risks. The question we are all asking is: Is it possible to reduce the complexity and streamline sustainability reporting? We spoke to Robin Bolton, Head of Sustainability at IsoMetrix, about the inherent complexity of reporting and approaches to streamline this in the future.
Complexity of Reporting
Investors, civil society and purchasers, to name a few, are placing greater importance on sustainably produced materials and supply chains that do not exploit communities and the environment. These groups are dedicated to defining and promoting responsible practices underpinned by rigorous assurance processes that are recognized by stakeholders as credible and define best practice principles. Although not an extensive list, below are some of the voluntary responsible mining initiatives and sustainability frameworks:
- International Council on Mining and Metals
- Towards Sustainable Mining (Mining Association of Canada)
- Aluminum Stewardship Initiative
- Responsible Jewellery Council
- Responsible Gold Mining Principles
- Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI)
- Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)
- International Finance Corporation (IFC)
- Responsible Steel
- International Tin Association
- Cobalt Institute (CIRAF)
- London Metal Exchange (LME) Responsible Sourcing Guidelines
- OECD Due Diligence
- LBMA Responsible Silver
- Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
- Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
The number of these initiatives which companies are members of, and the diversified nature of business conducted, determines the complexity of the requirements to which assessment, assurance and transparent reporting is required. Not being able to establish equivalencies across these multiple standards and frameworks compounds the reporting burden, a responsibility which cannot be overlooked as the pressure rises to align with these frameworks. “Being members of these initiatives and transparently reporting on assured sustainability practices are no longer a nice to have, or something driven by progressive ESG-driven organizations,” explains Robin. “It is the difference between being allowed to operate, having shareholder and community trust, and receiving investment opportunities and a having market into which you can sell your product, or not.”
Drive for Industry Equivalency and streamlined reporting
With the fast pace of change and the adoption of new sustainable practice requirements, 2020 has seen a drive from responsible mining initiatives and sustainability standards to map equivalencies from assurance processes and adopt cross recognition. This initiative will take some time and will probably only truly be realized in years to come. While the various reporting bodies continue to work towards creating mutually agreed and mapped equivalencies in their reporting requirements, the onus is on organizations to optimize their processes and streamline reporting to reduce the compliance burden. Robin proposes that this can be achieved by:
- Integrating external performance requirements into organizational management systems’ key performance indicators that are assessed and audited in alignment with external standards.
- Implementing an agile software solution that is truly integrated and has the ability for one defined input with multiple reporting outputs across the key performance indicators.
- Developing functionality within the software solution with flexibility to map equivalencies and cross recognition as they are developed.
“Sustainability professionals spend the majority of their time conducting audits, assurance and compiling multiple reports,” explains Robin. “If you don’t integrate the multitude of requirements into your key performance indicators, input these into an agile software solution and map equivalencies and cross recognition, you risk being inconsistent in reporting, inefficient and consumed by the reporting burden with no time for continuous improvement. “This is where platforms like IsoMetrix have the biggest role to play,” says Robin. This reporting is not a task for complex spreadsheets. Having a centralized, integrated software solution with single inputs for multiple outputs cannot be understated. A software solution designed for complex Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting is fundamental to reducing the reporting burden.
The pressure on organizations to transparently disclose sustainability practices and metrics is set to increase. There is currently limited mapped equivalency and cross-recognition of these requirements, and while the industry is working to improve this, reporting requirements remain burdensome and pose a risk to organizations in both reporting accuracy and the financial impact of inefficient processes.
The need for a software platform in which to manage the complex cross-standard reporting requirements is fundamental to reducing the reporting burden. IsoMetrix is at the forefront of developing technology that enables one input with multiple outputs, driving efficiencies and reducing the reporting burden.
Interested in how other global mining companies are using technology to drive greater EHS and sustainability performance? Download our latest Mining Report to learn more:
About Robin Bolton
Robin Bolton has been in the environmental, social and sustainability field since 2000 as a consultant focusing on the mining, oil and gas and infrastructure sectors as well as with financial institutes.
His key experience is in integrated management systems, water efficiencies, environmental authorizations, environmental monitoring, ESG, auditing and feasibility studies, international lending requirements, mine closure, environmental and social risks, and the environmental and social license to operate.
Robin Bolton is now the Executive Head Sustainability at IsoMetrix, an EHS-centric integrated risk management software provider.