The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – an international non-profit organisation – has announced the release of its draft Mining Standard for public comment. The exposure draft is open for public consultation until 30 April 2023.
The draft Mining Standard is part of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, which enable organisations to report on their most significant impacts on the economy, environment, and people, and how adverse impacts are prevented.
The primary objective of this reporting tool is to improve transparency around the known impacts caused by mining activities and to ensure complete and consistent reporting across the sector. Classified as GR14, the Mining Standard applies to organisations undertaking any of the following activities:
- Exploration and extraction, including quarrying, and primary processing of all types of minerals, metallic and non-metallic; except for oil, gas, and coal, the impacts of which are captured under existing GRI sector standards.
- Ancillary activities for mining, such as transport and storage.
- Supply of specialised products and services to mining organisations, such as engineering, procurement, and construction contractors.
Relevant to any mining organisation, regardless of size, type, geographical location, or previous reporting practices, the consolidated register of likely material topics in the draft Mining Standard range from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate adaptation and resilience, and biodiversity, to the rights of indigenous peoples, forced labour and modern slavery, and conflict and high-risk areas.
This multi-stakeholder consultation process for input on the exposure draft, overseen by GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board, seeks to understand the depth of the general impacts incurred by mining activities. There is notable emphasis under the sustainable development section in the draft Mining Standard on the impending “boom” in global demand for critical minerals required for cleaner technologies in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The draft Mining Standard cautions that this raises concerns over risks of increased environmental and human rights impacts, especially where mining activities are located in more remote sites or near ecologically sensitive areas.
The spotlight on this inflexion point between specific minerals and the surge in cleaner technologies, such as renewable energy and battery storage, coincides with a January 2023 Energy Technology Perspectives report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA Report). Focusing on the “new age of clean technology manufacturing”, the IEA Report forecasts the risks and opportunities associated with the scaling up of clean energy supply chains against emission reduction scenarios.
Chapter 3 in the IEA Report explores the mining and material production cog in the supply chain. It is anticipated that, on balance, the transition to clean energy technologies will reduce the total mass of resources – including both energy and materials – entering the energy system. This is despite a large increase in demand for critical minerals, including copper, lithium, cobalt, nickel, and platinum. To achieve the IEA’s Net-Zero by 2050 scenario, over 70 new lithium and nickel mines, 30 cobalt mines, and 80 copper mines would be required to meet the necessary output volume.
According to the IEA Report, the clean technology manufacturing era will depend on the extraction of critical minerals either from an increasing number of greenfield mining projects and / or expanded output at existing mines.
The call for public comment is available here.
Submit comments via this questionnaire.
This advisory note was prepared by ALT Advisory’s new Climate Justice & Sustainability (CJS) practice area. With an emphasis on implementation, monitoring, and impact reporting, CJS aims to build climate-resilience through digital transformation and climate and environmental justice. Find out more here.
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