PDAC steals show at GRI session on MMSS

As noted in an earlier blog, GRI launched its Metals and Mining Sector Supplement during PDAC’s 78th Annual Conference held in early March in Toronto which attracted 21,600 attendees. So how and why did PDAC manage to steal the show at GRI’s June conference session on the Mining and Metals Sector Supplement?

It seems that many in the audience – and perhaps even amongst those on the panel - were surprised to learn about the discovery-to-production value chain in the mining sector. PDAC’s presentation helped the audience appreciate the 98% failure rate and cash-flow negative status in the industry, with few discoveries ever leading to a producing mines. Probably for the first time, many in the audience realized that the largest numbers of companies in the mining sector are Micro/SME sized and not the big brands most people associate with this sector. It is also in this ‘upstream’ space where the seeds of good/bad community relations are planted which will continue to influence above ground (extra-financial) risks/opportunities and relationships for years to come.

Perhaps some also realized the sustainability reporting challenges faced by the exploration and junior segments. I wonder how much of that filtered into the discussions of the working group developing the GRI Metals and Mining Sector Supplement. The industry participation of that GRI working work, it becomes evident that it was heavily tilted towards the majors and members of the International Council on Metals and Mining or ICMM. And before sharing the list with you, let me pause to acknowledge and commend ICMM and all of their members (and other organizations) who all participated in GRI’s multi-stakeholder process. 

The participants of the GRI working group included the following companies (and I added a ‘*’ to denote ICMM membership): Ambatovy (major owners Sheritt and Sumitomo*); Anglo American*; BHP Billiton*; Newmont Mining*, European Nickel (recently merged with Rusina);  First Point Minerals Corporation; Placer Dome (now part of Xstrata*); Rio Tinto*; Sumitomo Metal Mining*; Teck* and Vale*.  Clearly, the majors (and their needs) were very well represented.

Outliers in the industry bunch on the GRI working group included European Nickel (recently merged with Rusina) and First Point Minerals. Perhaps these two and others in the exploration cum junior sector (including PDAC) can reach out to their peers to help make the business case and separate the misperceptions associated with the GRI framework from reality – or develop other workable approaches to help create more shareholder/sustainability value.

My own efforts in this realm include developing and offering the first GRI-certified training program in North America, providing more tailored boot camps and supporting junior/pre-production and mid-tier miners to develop their inaugural sustainability reports, and publishing articles and blogs to raise awareness (see also my article “Sustainability Reporting using GRI Lessons Learned Nov09” which appeared in the November 2009 issue of the Mining.com Magazine), and highlighting convergance of GRI with other frameworks (such as IFC Performance Standards/Equator Principles) used by a variety of investors and political risk insurers. 

What do you think PDAC and others should do to help junior/mid-tier mining segment cross the reporting chasm and start their sustainability reporting journey?