Key Findings

1. It can be done

While individual company results still show considerable scope for improvement, the RMI-assessed companies have collectively proven that responsible mining is a realistic goal – it can be done. The RMI 2018 results show that if one company were to attain all the highest scores achieved for every indicator, it would reach over 70% of the maximum achievable score. This implies that existing best practice, if systematically applied by all companies, could already go some way to meeting society expectations.

 

2. Diversity of responsible practice

Nineteen companies rank among the ten strongest performers for at least one of the thematic areas of the Index. Many companies are performing relatively well in certain areas and leading practices are found even on issues for which performances are generally weak, such as addressing the needs of vulnerable groups in mining-affected communities. The wide range of companies demonstrating responsible practices on particular issues indicates that performance does not necessarily depend on the company size or commodity focus, the home countries where they are registered, or the producing countries where they operate.

 

3. Commitments need to be realised

The vast majority of companies have made policy commitments on topics such as business ethics, human rights, occupational health and safety, and environmental impact management. Still, a few companies are yet to make commitments on such well-established international practice. Beyond this, few companies can demonstrate that they have systematically operationalised their commitments into effective actions and fewer still show they are tracking their performance on these issues. In the absence of evidence of such efforts, commitments by themselves might appear as meaningless gestures or simply tick-box exercises.

 

4. Adverse impacts undermine progress

The scale and persistence of severe adverse impacts greatly undermine progress made by companies towards more effective management of EESG issues. For example, while many companies have clearly developed systematic approaches to address occupational health and safety and environmental impact management, the most frequent adverse impacts found in the RMI analysis relate to worker fatalities and environmental pollution. Similarly, the widespread existence of commitments on human rights is at odds with the fact that violations of human rights (including forced evictions, land grabs and violent attacks on community members) are among the ten most common types of severe impacts identified in the RMI research.

 

5. External requirements improve public disclosure

National, international and multi-stakeholder reporting requirements clearly lead to more and better reporting and public disclosure. Stronger reporting is evident where companies align their public reporting with, for example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Carbon Disclosure Project, or mandatory reporting requirements. At the mine-site level, some of the leading practices on performance tracking and reporting are the direct result of conditions set by an investor or a producing country government. By contrast, few companies show they go beyond compliance to proactively disclose public-interest information, and fewer still take the lead to address emerging concerns, such as the impacts of mining on children, where external interest has been slower to manifest.

 

6. From case studies to systematic action

Stronger performing companies generally demonstrate company-wide approaches to managing EESG issues, rather than only being able to show action in a specific country or at a specific mine site. The strongest performing companies have formalised their approaches by establishing company-wide systems (e.g. management standards or guidelines) and tracking the implementation of these systems to ensure they have been effectively integrated across all business units. Companies that take systematic action demonstrate that their individual achievements can be successfully multiplied.

 

7. Site-level data largely missing

Only a small proportion of mine sites shows evidence of reporting on matters of direct interest to mining-affected communities, workers and other stakeholders. This includes information on how a site performs on local employment, local procurement, grievance, water use and biodiversity impacts. For one-third of the mine sites assessed, no evidence was found of performance reporting on any of these issues. In the absence of publicly reported data, it is more difficult for companies and local stakeholders to develop trust-based relationships or engage in constructive discourse on issues of shared interest.

8. Open data sharing still evolving

A few companies illustrate the use of open data principles to ensure the reported information is provided in a way that enables users to readily understand it and use it for meaningful assessment and comparison. Adoption of leading practice would ensure that data are disaggregated, provide regular or real-time information, allow change to be seen, allow users to understand the context, and are locally accessible and machine readable. Disclosure of public-interest data in an effective manner can help companies foster more informed engagement with their stakeholders, including governments, investors and civil society.