Anglo American, Gold Fields tip sustainability as key to investor support

People, technology, culture, lowering energy costs and increasing exploration are some of the key topics discussed at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) for building a more sustainable industry.

Gold Fields Australasia operations executive vice president Stuart Mathews and Anglo American chief executive of metallurgical coal business Tyler Mitchelson both cited sustainability as a vital priority for the industry looking ahead when speaking at IMARC.

Gold Fields is looking to increase its already strong Australian contribution of 43 per cent, or 886,000-ounce production, to 50 per cent, while Anglo American is targeting ethically sourced minerals by 2025.

Mathews believes shareholders of 2019 are more socially conscious than decades past, so it is important to show them the company’s sustainable goals.

“If we don’t do anything about climate change and energy security, people won’t want to work with us and investors will choose not to invest in us,” Mathews said.

“Ultimately, we have a responsibility to operate in a responsible and sustainable way, globally and locally.

“It’s equally important that we look at ways to positively contribute to community goals as well as meet global aspirations.”

Mathews said Gold Fields has a role to play in tackling climate change through introducing renewable energy options.

At Gold Fields’ Agnew mine in Western Australia, the company has invested in five wind turbines and 10,000 solar panels, producing 18 megawatts and four megawatts respectively.

Mitchelson also suggested the rise of environment-social-governance factors needs to be a priority for all investors, customers and stakeholders on the journey to sustainability.

“In the future, when someone refers to ‘mining’, I hope they see a picture of people doing valued work in a cleaner, smarter and more socially responsible way, providing the essential ingredients for modern life,” Mitchelson said.

Anglo American has set an ambitious 2030 sustainable mining plan, with targets including a 30 per cent improvement in energy efficiency and an absolute 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

The company recently announced that its Unki mine in Zimbabwe would be the world’s first mine to publicly commit to being independently audited against the responsible mining assurance’s standard for responsible mining.

Mitchelson said all Anglo American managed mine sites would be independently certified by the end of 2025 to satisfy customers’ objective of sourcing ethical minerals.

“Our purpose recognises that where we are going on our sustainability journey not only involves a shift in how we mine, but also why we mine,” Mitchelson said.