CIM 2022: Industry needs to address climate, social concerns

The top risk is climate change, one panelist said

Climate risks are the top concern facing the industry

Climate risks are the top concern facing the industry

The mining industry needs to take a more proactive approach to handling environmental and social concerns, a panel at CIM 2022 in Vancouver said.

"Our number one risk is climate change," Ani Markova, co-founder of the ESG software firm Onyen Corporation, said.

"We need to think more aggressively about a better way to do things. ESG is a snapshot of where we are, but the trend needs to be on improvement in how mining companies are meeting these metrics."

Nathan Monash, VP of Sustainability at Lundin Gold, agrees.

"I don't think we're moving fast enough," he said. "The energy transition is going to require a very significant increase in the level of production. So if we're going to fulfil that role, we need to address a whole series before we get to that point."

Major issues include local content, job creation, and the integration of local businesses in the value chain, Monash said.

"We need to be much more proactive in finding partners with whom we can work," he added.

For Calvin Helin, a principal at First Nations-owned INDsight Consulting, real change will come when mining companies engage more with First Nations populations.

"I think mining companies can start off by hiring indigenous people to be their environmental and indigenous relations people in the companies," he said. Indigenous communities can also be engaged by giving them shares in the resource development company.

The Tahltan Nation, based in north-western British Columbia, provides a template for positive Indigenous interactions with resource companies, Nalaine Morin, resource development advisor at ArrowBlade Consulting, said.

"We're working with companies like Newcrest and Skeena Resources, and ensuring we're part of the design process [of mining projects]," she said. "We're working very closely with companies to understand the project before we receive the permit application, what the design  looks like, and where the opportunity is for our values and interests to be incorporated."

Looking forward to 2050, panellists had several ideas regarding the future of mineral development.

For Lundin's Monash, he would like to see mining focus on one set of standards instead of the multiplicity of guidelines companies currently follow.

"Responsible mining can't be a slogan, it has to be a reality that others who are impacted by the presence of mining believe and see," he said.

Business clusters are also imperative.

"We need to link more effectively to local industry, and play a part in creating local industry where it doesn't exist," Monash said. "Significant investment needs to be made in these areas for the future success of the mine."

Markova envisions a supply chain which tracks the carbon and water intensity of minerals, and passes the cost onto consumers in the form of a tax.

"What if we used that tax to invest in the local communities around the mine, and used these funds for mine reclamation?" she said.

For First Nations consultant Morin, the future of mining includes one which helps meet capacity gaps in local communities.

"We have companies doing work in Tahltan like Skeena, who are creating an engineering and mentorship programme. There is an understanding that there's a need to close the capacity gap, and we will be looking for innovative ways to do that."

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