Balancing the need for local sustainability with the broader scope of delivering on strategic objectives mean mines must remain cognisant of all associated environmental issues resulting from climate change. For instance, extreme precipitation can result in flood damage to infrastructure. It can also give rise to mine waste residues, which can have significant consequences for the local communities as well as the reputation of the mining houses. All such scenarios must be accounted for in the mine planning as well as continual changes in the operating environment.
“Flowing from here, indirect impacts such as the health and safety of personnel onsite or of surrounding communities, legal liability, livelihoods of dependent communities, and reputational consequences are all adding to an increasingly complex list of ESG requirements. Delivering on this while still managing profitability become the fundamental issue which mines across Africa must deal with,” says Ralph Heath, Managing Director: Earth & Environment, WSP in Africa.
Heath believes that because mines must have a clear understanding of health and safety, compliance and ethics, and the linkage to the mining business itself, the need to deliver on the ESG mandate becomes critical.
“Mines have multi-disciplinary processes in place to identify, assess, and manage risks through risk management frameworks. Expanding that with the additional mechanisms to meet ESG goals make for a rapidly changing risk management environment. Mining houses must address these both at corporate and operational levels if they are to meet their mandate of responsible sustainability taking the environment into account,” says Heath.
“Ultimately, it is as much about planning for sustainability as it is about ensuring the practical components can be enforceable at a ground level. ESG is about more than a box-ticking exercise, it's something that needs to permeate all aspects of mining operations if its difference is to be felt across the continent,” concludes Heath.
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