JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The global mining sector is largely adopting a “wait-and-see” approach to climate change actions, with only a few companies implementing sustainability measures while others cite the lack of a business case to introduce any response, a KPMG survey has found.
But in South Africa, the situation was said to be quite different, as the local mining industry was viewed as more diverse and mature, with a growing awareness of the impacts of climate change in the local economy.
A survey among the mining sector, conducted by financial services company KPMG, stated that less than 20% of global mining sector players believed that climate change was a significant driver for new initiatives in their organisation.
Almost 50% of the sector reported that their companies had not quantified the potential cost of climate change on their business.
Some indicated that they were waiting for better market signals before making any decisions on climate change.
In ‘Responses to the Climate Change Debate: KPMG Mining Industry Survey’ some 60% of respondents said that their organisations had not implemented structural changes to address climate change issues, while over 60% had not measured their carbon footprints and did not factor in climate change when dealing with suppliers and customers.
Only 30% of the organisations surveyed were considering changing their policies to address the climate change issue.
Some companies felt that the small size of their operations made such core changes unsuitable.
“While over half (57%) of the organisations surveyed have not changed their structure or management to address climate change issues and are also not intending to take such initiatives, we believe that the situation in South Africa is much more positive,” said KPMG head of mining in Africa Ian Kramer.
“Despite a growing number of scientists and government agencies arguing that climate change is a real threat, and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) recognising that sustained global action is required, the global survey findings highlight that there are significant differences in opinion among senior mining executives about the issue. In South Africa, however, a large number of mining companies are responding to the challenge by adopting climate-friendly practices,” Kramer added.
The survey also discussed how mining organisations have taken steps to tackle climate change and address new or proposed environmental regulations.
“Some of the reluctance to move can be attributed to regulatory uncertainty. However the release of the South African Green Paper [on Climate Change] gives the sector an opportunity to make its voice heard and address some of the issues that the paper seems to neglect in terms of impact on mining,” said Kramer.
The survey made a number of recommendations on the mining sector and its mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
These included the need to make climate change a strategic and fully integrated part of corporate policies, new initiatives, acquisitions, supplier relationships and business models.
The development of strategies that identify and quantify opportunities and risks related to climate change were also recommended, as well as ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, suppliers and business partners.
Kramer added that there was an ongoing need to assess present and proposed legislation and their impacts on the sector and individual organisations.
KPMG head of climate change Shireen Naidoo also highlighted the importance of following best practice and monitoring, verifying and reporting carbon dioxide emissions.
The survey looked at mining companies in North America, the Asia Pacific region, Africa, the Middle East and South America with about 60% of companies working with market capitalisation of $1-billion or more.