Botswana Chamber of Mines follows Canada’s lead in sustainable mining
The Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) today announced that it will adopt the Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) initiative, a corporate social responsibility program developed by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) to improve environmental and social practices in the mining industry.
This is first time that TSM has been adopted by a mining association in Africa, and the third to do so outside of Canada. FinnMin, the Finnish Mining Association, adopted TSM in November 2015 and the Cámara Argentina de Empresarios Mineros (CAEM), the Argentinean Chamber of Mining Entrepreneurs, adopted the initiative in October 2016.
MAC and its members launched TSM in 2004. Implementation of the program is mandatory for all MAC members' Canadian operations, but many voluntarily apply it to their international sites. MAC freely shares TSM with other countries seeking tools to improve the environmental and social performance of their mining industries, including engagement with civil society and enhanced transparency and accountability.
"Botswana Chamber of Mines members subscribe to the principles of responsible mining and extraction of minerals from the earth. The adoption of TSM will enable the industry to demonstrate adherence to sound and sustainable minerals development practices and strive towards continual improvement," said Charles Siwawa, CEO, BCM.
TSM requires mining companies to annually assess their facilities' performance across six important areas, including tailings management, community outreach, safety and health, biodiversity conservation, crisis management, and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions management. The results are freely available to the public and are externally-verified every three years to ensure what has been reported is accurate. While BCM will tailor its performance areas so that they reflect the unique aspects of its domestic mining sector, they will be at a similar level to those of Canada's.
To ensure TSM reflects the expectations of civil society and industry stakeholders, it was designed and continues to be shaped by an independent, multi-interest advisory panel. As part of its implementation, BCM will implement a similar advisory body to provide this valuable oversight function.
"With Botswana's adoption of Towards Sustainable Mining, the program is now in four countries on four continents, clearly establishing TSM as an emerging global standard. It is our privilege to share our tools and expertise in sustainable and responsible mining practices with a country that is making important strides in sustainable mining development," said Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC.
"Canada is very pleased that the Mining Association of Canada and the Botswana Chamber of Mines are working together on the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative. This initiative reflects Canada's strong relationship with Botswana and our commitment to support the sustainable development of Botswana's mining sector," said His Excellency Kumar Gupta, Ambassador of Canada to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Angola.
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Low carbon world needs $1.7trn in mining investment
According to a new report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie, mining companies need to invest nearly $1.7trn in the next 15 years to help supply enough copper, cobalt, nickel and other metals needed for the shift to a low carbon world.
Cutting carbon emissions
The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada and others raised their targets on cutting carbon emissions to halt global warming at a summit in April hosted by US President Joe Biden.
Meeting those targets will need large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, storage for power generated from renewables and electricity transmission, all of which require industrial materials, such as lightweight aluminium and metals used in batteries such as cobalt and lithium.
Wood Mackenzie analyst Julian Kettle calculated miners needed to invest about $1.7trn during the next 15 years to “deliver a two-degree pathway - where the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times is limited to 2°C”.
“At an industry level, there seems to be reticence around investing sufficient capital to develop future supply at the pace and scale demanded by the energy transition (ET),” he said.
Mining firms are wary of making heavy investments after their experience of the last decade when they invested in new capacity just as demand peaked, leading to a collapse in prices and revenues. They also need to please investors, who are unlikely to want to see dividends diverted to capital spending.
Rising demands of investors related environment, social and governance (ESG) issues further add to the challenge.
Australia, Canada and Western Europe carry a low ESG risk but some of the best resources are in high-risk areas, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, which sits on about half the world’s cobalt reserves according to the U.S. Geological Survey. “Given the need to meet tough decarbonisation and ESG targets, Western governments, lenders, investors and consumers will need to get comfortable operating in jurisdictions where ESG issues are more complex,” Kettle said.
Kettle said government support was needed to help miners comply with ESG issues to ensure production from high-risk areas was conducted in an acceptable way to consumers.
“Then, and only then, will the West be able to secure sufficient volumes of the raw materials needed to pursue the energy transition in the timescales envisaged.”