Africa Brief

Climate change deep underground for mining sector

Original article published on IOL Business on 9 February 2012.

A KPMG survey entitled Responses to the Climate Change Debate: KPMG Mining Industry Survey covered North America, the Asia Pacific region, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

Ian Kramer, Director and Head of Mining in Africa for KPMG, says that the report found that less than 20% of global mining sector players believe that climate change is a significant driver for new initiatives in their organisation, with almost 50% of the sector reporting that their organisations had not quantified the potential cost of climate change into their business.

Approximately 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 do not include climate change in dealings with suppliers and customers.

Tackling climate change in the mining sector

Some respondents felt that a cautious approach was best or questioned the effectiveness of changes to address this issue outside of existing structures. Others felt that they were at an ‘awareness building’ stage, with additional action planned for the future. Still others felt that the small size of their organisations made such core changes unsuitable.

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.

The survey also pronounces on the degree to which mining organisations have taken steps to tackle climate change and address new or proposed environmental regulations.

Opportunities and risks related to climate change

These include the factors responsible for the lack of sustainability measures by the majority of mining organisations, an evaluation of climate change as a significant driver for new initiatives in the mining sector and an evaluation of the impact of market conditions on sectoral plans to address climate change.

Some of the reluctance to move can be attributed to regulatory uncertainty. The survey also makes a number of recommendations for the mining sector and its mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Among these are 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 is also recommended in conjunction with ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, suppliers and business partners. There is an ongoing need to assess present and proposed legislation, and its impacts on the sector and individual organisations.

Original article published on IOL Business on 9 February 2012.
David Okwara

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