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Investors worth $11 trillion back efforts to clean up mining industry

27 November 2023

Alamy

Mineworkers at the entrance of a goldmine in Springs, near Johannesburg, South Africa, at the end of last month, after a union dispute caused more than 100 of them to be held underground for three days

Mineworkers at the entrance of a goldmine in Springs, near Johannesburg, South Africa, at the end of last month, after a union dispute caused more tha...

A NEW commission set up to improve standards in the mining industry and chaired by the chief responsible-investment officer at the Church of England Pensions Board says that it has the support of 82 investment firms.

The Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030, backed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and Cape Town, was launched in January (News, 3 February). It seeks to build on lessons learnt from the collapse of the Brumadinho dam in Brazil in 2019, in which 270 people were killed (News, 8 February 2019). Areas of focus will include safety standards, labour practices, land rights, and environmental sustainability.

It announced last week that it had secured the support of 82 asset owners and fund managers, who, between them, manage $11 trillion in assets. They include the Dutch fund APG-AM, the Canadian fund CDPQ, the American fund CalSTRS, and the UK funds Scottish Widows and USS.

The 24 members of the commission will meet monthly and will be advised by the United Nations Environment Programme, a statement said. Its members include representatives from the mining industry as well as from intergovernmental organisations, academia, trades unions, and legal and investment firms.

The chair of the commission, Adam Matthews, who is the Pension Board’s chief responsible-investment officer, said that the commission represented “a unique opportunity to step back and consider how investors value, steward, and invest for the long term in a sector whose time horizons are multi-decadal and often at odds with short-term investment pressure.

“Twinned with this will be a consideration of the role of investors in supporting the alignment and consolidation of best-practice standards on the key issues that challenge the sector, as well as the role of addressing existing and future conflict that can be caused or exacerbated by extraction.”

One of the commissioners is Angélica Amanda Andrade, a member of the community of Brumadinho. “Hailing from Brumadinho, and having personally experienced the devastating impacts of a tailings failure, I understand the critical need for robust, transparent, and effective communication in mining operations,” she said.

“This commission represents an important step in ensuring that the voices of all stakeholders, especially those directly affected by mining activities, are heard and valued. . . I am hopeful that, through our collective efforts and interdisciplinary knowledge coming together, we can pave the way for safer, more sustainable mining practices that prioritise the well-being of communities and the environment, alongside shared value.”

The deputy chairman of the commission, Barend Petersen, who is a representative of the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, said: If mining is to provide what society needs into the future, then we need to reflect if we are enabling it to do so to the highest standards. The role of investors is critical to how the sector can meet future demand sustainably and responsibly. We need to think long term, and the commission presents an opportunity to do so.”

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