JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The mining industry has to address the critical challenges of safety, productivity and the way land is used, as well as how energy and water are consumed as, alongside a growing population, there is greater demand for minerals and metals.
However, meeting the growing demand for the materials that are essential to human progress, is “more than just the work that we do and the footprint we leave,” diversified miner Anglo American South Africa (AASA) executive head Andile Sangqu said on Monday.
During AASA’s inaugural Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) accountability dialogue on Monday, he told delegates that, despite the current economic environment, AASA is committed to continuing to embody good governance in sustainability and to demonstrating best practice.
To achieve this, it aims to re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives through an innovation-led approach to sustainable mining – FutureSmart Mining.
This approach comprises a future in which broad innovative thinking, enabling technologies and collaborative partnerships, will shape an industry that is safer, more sustainable and efficient, and better harmonised with the needs of host communities and society as a whole, the miner believes.
In this respect, AASA has developed its sustainability strategy through “extensive internal and external engagement and analysis of critical opportunities and risks, including the UN’s SDGs”, which sets the development agenda until 2030.
Sangqu further explained to Mining Weekly Online that AASA’s sustainability strategy is built around three global sustainability pillars; namely being a trusted corporate leader, thriving communities and a healthy environment.
“Our approach [to being a trusted corporate leader] is not to be compliance-driven, but rather to ensure we do the right thing as an organisation and that we engage in the kind of programmes that support that kind of philosophy and framework,” he said.
With regards to thriving communities, he highlighted the importance for mining companies such as AASA to become responsible to host communities and to leave a positive legacy.
“It is very important to us to ensure our communities are empowered [and] self-sufficient,” he pointed out.
In this respect, Sangqu told Mining Weekly Online about AASA’s education initiatives in the miner’s host communities.
“This is a five-year programme that we’ve committed ourselves to and part of that programme [sees] about 100 schools across our communities that we support and invest in, starting at early childhood development right until tertiary [education]. Precisely because in the final analysis, we would like to see happy and content communities. That is our ambition and our goal,” he elaborated.
Linked to this, Sangqu said AASA also promotes the health of its host communities through getting involved in HIV/Aids programmes, and others.
“There will come a time when the resource is depleted. We want something to be left for these communities and, hence, we would like to ensure that these communities are less and less reliant on mining.”
The last pillar of the sustainability strategy touches on the environment, with Sangqu highlighting the importance of dealing with issues that “will leave a good impact”.
“It is a very important day for us because we have also acknowledged that all of these things, that we cannot do these by ourselves,” he noted.
Expanding on the global sustainability pillars, AASA sustainability strategy principal Craig du Plessis told delegates attending the dialogue that the miner has additional goals to achieve by 2030, in line with the South African government’s National Development Plan.
Besides others, AASA aims to have all of its operations certified to relevant mine certification standards by 2030, with half of these operations having agreed to responsible mine certification standards by 2020.
In terms of policy advocacy, AASA aims to finalise group and business unit/country policy advocacy plans in support of key sustainability issues by 2020.
By 2025, AASA hopes to have three jobs supported or created off-site for every job on-site. By 2030, this number will increase to five off-site jobs for every on-site job.
Looking towards the environment, AASA plans to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions and improve energy efficiency, both by 30%, by 2030.
Additionally, AASA aims to reduce the abstraction of fresh water in water-scarce regions by 20% by 2020, and increase this to 50% by 2030.