The new standard, created by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) looks to address the known sustainability impacts of the mining sector.
Called the GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024, the new standard provides a common set of metrics for mining companies to report on their environmental, social, and economic (ESG) impacts.
The standard will highlight how mining organisations are balancing two conflicting truths: the essential nature of their role in providing the minerals that modern societies rely on; and the need for accountability on the harm their operations can cause to the environment, communities, and workers.
“The position of mining is complex,” said Carol Adams, Chair of GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board. “The low-carbon transition cannot be realised without key minerals that the sector provides, yet mining operations can have deep and damaging impacts on both nature and people.”
“We need detailed, consistent and globally comparable reporting on the most significant impacts of mining companies, which this new GRI Standard will deliver,” Adams added.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects significant growth in demand for materials, such as concrete, steel, iron, fibreglass, aluminium, and rare earth elements (REEs), fuelled by clean energy technologies like wind turbines and electric vehicles. Their Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) anticipates a sevenfold increase in REE demand by 2040 alone.
“With the energy transition set to boost demand for transition minerals, the new GRI Mining Standard is a timely contribution to the fast evolving sustainability landscape,” said Suneeta Kaimal, President and CEO of the Natural Resource Governance Institute.
The Standard applies to all organisations engaged in mining and quarrying, including exploration and extraction, primary processing, and related support services (with the exception of coal, oil and gas, for which GRI Sector Standards are already available).
It also addresses 25 topics considered material for mining companies, including emissions, waste management, human rights, land and resource rights, climate change, biodiversity, anti-corruption, and community engagement.
Additionally, the new standard introduces three new topics specific to the mining sector: tailings management, artisanal and small-scale mining, and operating in conflict zones.
However, some have noted that the standard is not a performance standard, but rather a reporting standard. This means that it does not set specific requirements for companies to improve their sustainability performance.
“While we recognise it is not a performance standard but a reporting standard, workers and communities can still hold mining companies accountable using GRI 14, to the extent that the company reports according to it,” said Glen Mpufane, Director of Mining at IndustriALL Global Union.
Despite this limitation, the new GRI standard is considered a step forward in promoting transparency and accountability in the mining sector. It is expected to be used by a wide range of stakeholders, including investors, communities, and policymakers.
The mineral sector is undergoing a significant transformation towards increased transparency and accountability in ESG practices. Last week, German certification company, TÜV NORD, published the first of its CERA 4in1 certifications. The certification aims to empower companies, stakeholders, and customers to effectively track and fulfil ESG requirements across all stages of the production process.
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