Few good (responsible) miners – Dominion Diamond, Rio Tinto, Petra Diamonds lead the way in environmental reporting

Only considering the Financial bottom-line is outmoded. Measuring, reporting and monitoring Triple bottom-line is the new norm. Global corporations have started focusing on development of all the three ‘P’s – People, Planet and not just Profit, to effectively sustain their businesses in the long term. Governance and transparency are not just mere buzzwords but principles wholeheartedly embraced by companies worldwide, having realized the importance and benefits of good stakeholder engagement and sustainability.

In such an evolving and developing scenario, it is dismal to note that most of the diamond mining companies are still miles away to adopt these principles and standards. There are more than 50 active diamond mines in the world and appallingly only 11 of them truly report their environmental impact. In a business that essentially is environmentally deteriorating, it becomes imperative to measure, monitor and report the impact on overall environment. It becomes even more critical to take steps to mitigate the harm caused on environment and help restore it by implementing effective Environment Management Systems (EMS) and standards such as ISO 14001. There are only around 19 mines that claim to be ISO 14001 certified but many of them don’t report their environmental impact in public domain.

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There are however some mines that truly report their impact on nature by publishing various Sustainability related report that covers Emissions, Air quality, Water usage and impact, Fuel consumption, Energy usage, effect on Wildlife, Habitat loss, Impact to communities and workers, Health & Safety issues, CSI, Safety & development measures, management plans for environmental restoration etc.

De Beers operates around 10 diamond mines in South Africa, Canada, Botswana and Namibia through either direct control, joint ventures or indirect stakes. It claims that all its mining assets are compliant with the ISO 14001 standards (which couldn’t be confirmed) but it does not report the environmental impact of each mine. At best, it publishes a group-wide report ‘Report to Society’, which purports to take care of all its social and environmental responsibilities. In its 2013 report, it mentioned that the emissions for the group were a staggering 1.8 million Tons Co2e.

Same applies for Gem Diamonds, which operates the Letseng and Ghagoo mines in Lesotho and Botswana. It published a company-wide Sustainable Development Report in 2013, stating that its emissions were 137,082 Tons Co2e but no mine-wise data, impact or mitigation measures were reported.

Similarly, Alrosa also published a group-wide Sustainability Report in 2012. However, it is a superficial report with no mine-wise data and information. Also, it even does not disclose its GHG emission. (There are unconfirmed references of Alrosa’s EMS having achieved compliance with ISO 14001 standards but we have not been able to confirm Alrosa’s gaining the full certification.)

These flimsy reports are shallow in nature and represent only form, not substance. By obscuring the group-wide impact somewhere between the pages and mentioning generic social and environmental policies and commitments and not making the mine-wise impact available in the public domain is not Environmental Impact reporting in its truest form.

This is corroborated by the fact that very few miners including Alrosa, De Beers, Gem Diamonds et al, with their sketchy group-wide sustainability reports, disclosed their environmental impact on GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) – a framework where companies worldwide report their economic, environmental and social sustainability in a comprehensive manner, when several of their non-diamond mining counterparts do so.

Based on the % of mines that are apparently ISO certified and % of mines for whom environmental impact has been reported, we’ve categorized several diamond miners in Environment reporting quadrants.

One can only postulate the reasons for which many mining companies don’t report their environmental impact.

     > Unfathomable harm to environment

Is the harm caused to environment so severe that many mines refrain from disclosing their environmental impact and instead choose to keep it a Top-secret, is a question only such irresponsible miners can answer.

     > No stringent regulations

ISO 14001 is a voluntary standard and not a regulation. Besides, due to lack of any global stringent reporting regulation, most of the miners choose to follow only the applicable listing rules or local laws in letter than in spirit, to the basic minimum level possible.

     > Profits being Highest-order priority

Going by the actions, it can only be interpreted that environment is not a priority for most of the miners, with superficial responsibility statements for society and environment released. Maximizing shareholder’s returns gains precedence over anything else.

     > Lack of effective Governance structure

Many of the mines are ultimately closely held or state controlled, which translates to an ineffective governance structure in essence, especially when it comes to transparency in the public domain.

 

Such and various other reasons best known to the irresponsible miners, blemish the diamond industry as a whole. Miners like Dominion Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto and Petra Diamonds lead the way and set an example of being responsible corporate citizens, for other miners to follow. Diamond miners should stop looking only at the short-term rewards and start focusing on creating long-term sustainable value for all and the first step is to take responsibility of their actions and being transparent.

 

 

Disclaimer: The information, figures, statistics etc. presented above is based on the limited info available in public domain. Due care has been taken to present a true scenario, however since lot of necessary info is not available and industry being dynamic where changes happen rapidly, the above info may not necessarily be accurate. If you’ve come across any error in figures, statistics, facts etc., please do contact us and we’ll accordingly modify the post. 

[Cover Image Courtesy: Atlas Copco]

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