Sustainable Development in the Mining and Minerals Sector

Sustainable Development in the Mining and Minerals Sector

Sustainable development is one of the core values of the mining and minerals sector by recognising the need to create and implement a national framework that guarantees the economic, social and environmental needs of current and future generations.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has developed the ‘Enduring Value’ Framework which aligns with the ‘Sustainable Development Framework’ of the International Council of Mining and Minerals (ICMM). The ‘Sustainable Development Framework’ was established in 2003 and consists of 10 core principles.

 

 

The 10 Principles

  1. Implement and maintain ethical business practices and sound systems of corporate governance.
  2. Integrate sustainable development considerations within the corporate decision-making process.
  3. Uphold fundamental human rights and respect cultures, customs and values in dealings with employees and others who are affected by our activities.
  4. Implement risk management strategies based on valid data and sound science.
  5. Seek continual improvement of our health and safety performance.
  6. Seek continual improvement of our environmental performance.
  7. Contribute to conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land use planning.
  8. Facilitate and encourage responsible product design, use, re-use, recycling and disposal of our products.
  9. Contribute to the social, economic and institutional development of the communities in which we operate.
  10. Implement effective and transparent engagement, communication and independently verified reporting arrangements with our stakeholders.

The International Council on Mining and Minerals, Sustainable Development Framework, 10 Principles

 What is Sustainable Development in the Mining and Minerals Sector?

The Australian minerals industry has a symbiotic relationship with the global ideals of sustainable development and is committed to contributing to the sustained growth and prosperity of current and future generations.

The Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future, Brundtland 1987).

In the mining and metals sector, this means that investments in minerals projects should be financially profitable, technically appropriate, environmentally sound and socially responsible.  (Minerals Council of Australia)

The Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainable development along with the International Council on Mining and Minerals Sustainable Development Framework and their 10 Principles are the basis for ‘Enduring Value’.

 The MCA and Enduring Value

Enduring Value is the Minerals Council of Australia’s framework for sustainable development. The basic guidelines are:

  • Alignment with global industry standards.
  • Building upon the Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management.
  • Providing a guide for good leadership with the community, government and the finance and insurance sectors.
  • Aligning the industry with the expectations of the community who needs the security of long term benefits to society through effective management of Australia’s natural resources.

The framework falls in line with the industry’s global commitment in effectively managing the …social, health, safety, environmental and economic issues in order to deliver sustainable shareholder value…’ by assisting industry members to improve their overall reporting and performance in sustainability values.

One of the main roles for ‘Enduring Value’ is to assist the industry in creating and implementing practical programs that fall in line with community and societal expectations of long term sustainable and environmental development.

 Business Benefits through Enduring Value

The implementation of Enduring Value provides a nationally recognised reporting channel to publicly demonstrate a strong commitment to the community, external investors and internal acquisition.

These benefits include:

  • Building an internal business commitment to the practices of sustainable development and providing a benchmark for companies to review, identify and re-structure their internal policies.
  • Ethical, environmental and social performance within the industry provides an avenue for the innovation of new and efficient products, processes and services, leading to improved investor confidence.

A 1996 study by ICF Kaiser (US) found that financial Markets have a higher degree of confidence in companies that exhibit higher standards of environmental performance than their peers, leading to a lower level of volatility in share price. (MCA: Enduring Value Summary)

  • Improved ethical, environmental and social policies positively impacts employee satisfaction, performance and retention rates.
  • Continued and demonstrated improvements in the effective management of environmental and social impacts is critical in winning bids and proposals to gain access to land for mineral exploration and development.

The Minerals Council of Australia is committed to the continued review and improvement to ‘Enduring Value’ in alignment with the International Council of Mining and Minerals. Communication and input with member companies, signatories, government and other interest groups are vital to the overall improvement and development of the Enduring Value Sustainable Development Framework.

For further reading and access to the downloadable Enduring Value Toolkit, follow the links below.

Guidance for Implementation

Enduring Value Summary Booklet

Mine Rehabilitation

Mine Closure and Completion

Community Engagement and Development

Stewardship

Enduring Value – Self Assessment Protocol