Column: Miners rate social licence, climate change as top concerns. Really? – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – October 8, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – The top concern among global miners, for a second year running, is how to keep a social licence to operate, especially amid rising pressure for the industry to tackle climate change.

But knowing what the main challenge is, and knowing what to do about it appear to be two different things. A survey of global mining companies by consultants EY showed that 44% of executives ranked maintaining a social licence to operate as their leading concern, with preparing for the workforce of the future the next most important challenge.

The social licence refers to how much a company’s business practices are accepted by employees, interest groups and the overall public. “The sector is facing greater scrutiny from end consumers, demanding a transparent ethical supply chain as well as a lower carbon footprint,” the report said.

“Shareholder activists are also driving many miners, particularly those with coal assets, to reshape their portfolios by either reconfiguring existing operations or executing divestments,” EY said in the report, published last month.

There is little doubt that public scrutiny of mining is on the rise, with heightened focus not only on coal miners, but also on metal ore producers, even those needed to drive a global shift toward cleaner renewable energy generation and battery storage.

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