Octopus Paul Predicts More Canadian Mining Sustainability Reports

Officially retired from predicting world cup soccer games, Octopus Paul now expects proliferation of first-time sustainability reporting amongst Canadian listed mining companies. Will Paul be right again?

About 2/3 of the world’s exploration and mining companies are headquartered/listed in Canada. And increasingly, extractive companies (particularly those with some appetite for political risk) are searching and developing new resources in developing countries and frontier regions.

Over the past few years, the CSR discussions amongst Canadian (= mostly international) extractive sector and its stakeholders has moved forward. This includes shared expectations on key issues emerging from consultations held in 2006 (better known at the National Roundtables in Canada) which were memorialized in the attached consensus Advisory Group Report - March 2007 (PDF, 2.3 MB). The Canadian Government responded in March 2009 with the publication of a new CSR strategy ‘Building the Canadian Advantage: a CSR Strategy for Canadian International Extractive Sector’ (DFAIT_CSR-March2009, PDF, 483 KB). In this strategy, the Canadian Government announced that it will promote widely-recognized international CSR performance guidelines, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for CSR reporting. It seems that some Canadian junior and mid-tier mining companies decided to kick start the process in a pro-active manner: they started reporting.

NovaGold produced its first sustainability report earlier this year. NovaGold s a pre-production mining company with interests in two of the world’s largest gold and copper-gold projects, a substantially constructed gold mine and other exploration-stage properties (Donlin Creek, Southwest Alaska; Galore Creek,  Northwest British Columbia;  Ambler , Northern Alaska; and Rock Creek, Northwest Alaska).  

Similarly, Osisko, which is also a pre-production mining company, published its 2009 sustainability report in line with the GRI reporting framework.  Osisko is currently building the Canadian Malartic gold mine in the Abitibi mining district. (Note: Osisko had already published its first, forward looking sustainability report for 2008 in 2009.)

Several weeks ago, Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited also made good on its promise to publish its first CSR report. AEM is a Canadian-based, mid-tier gold producer with mines in Canada, Finland and Mexico (LaRonde, Goldex, Lapa, Meadowbona all in Canada, Kittila Finalnd, Pinos Altos, Mexico).  This report - well - reports against the Mining Association of Canada's  Towards Sustainabile Mining and the GRI reporting framework/indicators.

Red Back Mining, an emerging mid-tier, gold producer listed in Canada, published its inaugural 2009 sustainability report recently. Red Back’s mining operations are located in Ghana (Chirano) and Mauritania (Tasiast).  [Disclosure: I assisted with the production of this sustainability report.]

Also in 2010, Lundin Mining Corporation, a mid-tier, base metals mining company produced its first sustainability report in line with the GRI framework. Previously, Lundin Mining had already published a couple of annual CSR reports. Lundin Mining’s operations are located in Portugal, Sweden, Spain and Ireland. In addition, Lundin Mining holds a development project pipeline and an equity stake in Tenke Fungurume copper/cobalt project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [Disclosure: I assisted also with the production of this sustainability report.]

Considering that we are still in the early part of the sustainability reporting season, all signs are that Octopus Paul may well be right – again! We should expect a new cohort of Canadian mining companies producing their first sustainability reports.

Do you think this will shift some of the inevitable comments on how first-timers should further improve their reporting practices to - instead - encourage those who remain 'free riders' by not reporting to get on with it? Also, have you come across other new CSR and sustainability reporting efforts in the extractive sector? Kindly send us a link to these new reports.  

Mehrdad Nazari, Senior CSR, GRI & ESIA Advisor, PRIZMA (Blog: www.prizmablog.com, Web: www.prizmasolutions.com)