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Event recap: AusIMM Social Responsibility Forum

Janine Herzig FAusIMM(CP)
· 500 words, 2 min read

AusIMM’s Social Responsibility Forum was held online on 7 and 8 October 2021, bringing together experts and practitioners at multiple levels of understanding and capability to discuss environmental, social and governance (ESG) best practice in resources.

Comparable to the inaugural Forum in 2019, there were 80 registrants representing a number of AusIMM Communities of Interest in a highly interactive Forum. The event was facilitated by AusIMM’s ESG and Social Responsibility Committee led by Bruce Harvey and with support from the Consultants Society and Social & Environment Society.

ESG performance has been at the top of the agenda for the AusIMM and the resources sector in recent years, and this Forum built on the successful inaugural Social Licence to Operate Forum held in person in 2019. Following the first Forum, AusIMM developed a Social Responsibility Framework, a Social Performance Chartered Professional discipline, a Professional Certificate course in ESG and Social Responsibility and has ensured ESG considerations are embedded into the JORC and VALMIN Code review agendas.

The forum participants came from a broad array of disciplines and geographical locations and featured invited speakers and panellists – Professor Daniel Franks, Stephen McIntosh, Jill Terry and Tim Gerrard – offering both internal and external perspectives. The overarching aim was to encourage guidance and input from participating members on an ‘action agenda’ for the next 2 years – quite simply, ‘what does AusIMM need to do next?'

Topics for the breakout groups were: 1. Society, 2. Sustainability, 3. Investors, Lenders and Shareholders, 4. Workforce, 5. Exploration and Resource/Reserve Definition, 6. Mining, 7. Mineral Processing and Waste Management, 8. Mine Closure Planning, Transition and Re-purposing.

Each breakout group focussed on some key questions which were then reported back to the plenary by the breakout leaders. Some common themes were:

  • the significance of the role of industry professionals when it comes to understanding and adapting to changing societal expectations
  • a need to address the deficit in supply and demand for ESG professionals and develop a pipeline of competency
  • an imperative to support industry professionals to evolve from Awareness to Understanding or Competence over the next few years
  • the importance of due diligence and auditing throughout the life cycle of a project to ensure commitments made don’t drop off once the finance is secured
  • the need to design for closure and minimising ESG impact via rejection and preconcentration, reduced footprint, energy and water consumption and waste
  • the importance of reprocessing and re-purposing waste streams
  • a need to have multi-disciplinary Boards and support all professionals to develop the skills and competencies and confidence required to serve on Boards
  • ensuring ESG considerations are adequately embedded into the JORC and VALMIN Codes and that Competency is properly defined and assured
  • the need for continuing Professional Development initiatives by the AusIMM and collaboration where it makes sense
  • the importance of language and respect for all stakeholders and the need for professionals to feel empowered to ‘speak out’ when necessary
  • a need to further refine the competencies within AusIMM’s Chartered Professional program and to include a feedback loop for applications and audits.

The organising Committee would like to thank all those who participated, presented and assisted with the planning and delivery of the Forum and looks forward to finalising a report on outcomes and recommendations for the Policy and Advocacy Committee of the AusIMM Board in coming weeks.

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