Size Matters – at least for CSR/GRI Reporting in Mining Sector

The Toronto Stock Exchange is a world leader in the resources sector and home to 55% of the world’s public mining companies. I was wondering how many of these public firms produce formal CSR and/or GRI-type sustainability reports?

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) boast an impressive number of listed mining companies: 2,262 early stage companies in the TSX Venture Exchange, and 1,570 companies in the TSX ‘proper’ (or the senior market).  At first thought, researching a large percentage of them did not seem a wise choice before packing my bags for my upcoming trip to attend PDAC in Toronto...

 But looking at the largest 50 listed firms on the TSX  quickly confirmed my worries: size does matter! The quoted market value is one of the best predictors (although perhaps not the causal linkage) of the existence of a CSR or sustainability report. Here are the detailed outcomes of rummaging through the web sites of the largest 50 TSX-listed firms.

If their quoted market value exceeded about $5 billion (about a dozen companies, by 31 Jan 2010), they either already have a GRI-type sustainability report or have CSR reports which could be relatively easily converted to  a ‘B-level’ GRI reports (Cameco and First Quantum Minerals) or a GRI report is expected imminently (Agnico-Eagle Mines’s report announced for Spring 2010). However, there are outliers of this group: Eldorado Gold Corporation, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd and Silver Wheaton Corp. Neither appears to have disclosed or announced plans for any CSR or GRI-type reports.

The reporting picture of companies with a quoted market value between $2 billion and $5 billion changes significantly.  Only 5 of the 13 companies in this size bracket produce CSR or GRI reports. Those who have not publically disclosed or announced any CSR/GRI reports at this time include Franco-Nevada Corporation, Centerra Gold Inc., Paladin Energy Ltd., Equinox Minerals Limited, Pan American Silver Corp., SouthGobi Energy Resources Ltd and Uranium One Inc.

Amongst the 21 companies which are in the $1 billion to $2 billion bracket, only three companies have disclosed formal CSR/GRI reports. Kudos goes to HudBay Minerals, Sherritt and Gabriel Resources.  

To me, this outcome was a bit of a surprise given the mountain of programs and data these companies are likley to be sitting on. Most of the companies which do not disclose CSR/GRI reports should be able to leverage their existing programs, systems and data to generate solid, B-level sustainability reports without major additional efforts or costs.

Prior to looking at the statistics above and reflecting on comments and concerns being raised during delivery of 10 GRI-certified short courses in Canada, I highlighted the following in a recent mining publication (Sustainability Reporting using GRI Lessons Learned Nov09): The report, “Count me in: The Readers’ Take on Sustainability Reporting” (2008), which was developed by SustainAbility and KPMG and captured views of nearly 2,300 survey respondents, confirmed that publishing a sustainability report has a strong positive impact on readers’ perceptions of a reporter. The report also notes that ninety percent of readers indicated that their views of a company had been influenced by reading its sustainability report. Of these, 85 percent indicate a more positive perception. It seems that more mining companies that are keen to generate their social license and differentiate themselves from their peers could use sustainability reporting to avoid leaving too much “reputational value” on the proverbial table.

Why do you think so few of the largest TSX listed companies produced CSR/GRI reports? Also, do you think that CSR and/or GRI reporting in this sector may be on the upswing in the mining sector?