The mining conundrum — responsibly sourcing green technology minerals in conflict zones – by Kim Polley (Daily Maverick – January 29, 2023)

Responsible sourcing should be at the top of the agenda for multinationals. But many green technologies — which we advocate in our war on climate change — rely on the use of minerals sourced in high-risk areas with poor human rights records.

In the last 12 months, the world came out of a heightened state of pandemic panic and headed directly into climate crisis consciousness. Amid a tornado of messages predicting the end of the world, it’s no wonder that people are scrambling to find someone to blame. And predictably, big business makes an outsized climate catastrophe target.

Practically speaking, stakeholder expectations around safety, environmental management, decarbonisation and corporate responsibility have become increasingly difficult to navigate.

For the mining sector — and with next week’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town (6-9 February) in mind — this is driving an urgency to address external perceptions of business operations with proactive environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies, particularly when investors are looking to understand societal value beyond the financials.

Key, in this context, is an appreciation of ESG’s potential to unlock value and mitigate risk for responsible miners.

Protecting people pays dividends

Health and safety is a long-standing issue for the mining industry — and is also one that materially affects the social licence to operate as it carries the potential for significant community impact.

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