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IGF Bulletin

Volume 210 Number 18 | Thursday, 10 October 2019


IGF 2019 Highlights

Wednesday, 9 October 2019 | Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland at: http://enb.iisd.org/igf/agm/2019/

Delegates to the AGM attended panel sessions throughout the day, where they shared country strategies and examples of good practice on a range of issues, including low-carbon minerals, post-mining transitions, and gender equality in the mining sector. The World Bank presented its Climate-Smart Mining Programme, and the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) invited governments of mining countries to join the partnership. Highlights included a report-back from the Global Tailings Review, which is seeking to develop a global standard for management of mine tailings, and discussions about the future of mining.

Government Strategies for Low-Carbon Minerals

Claudine Sigam, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), discussed how commodity-dependent countries can use mining to promote sustainable development. She described efforts by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which holds 55-65% of global cobalt reserves, to address child labor in its artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector. She cited positive examples of countries benefiting from mining and minerals, such as Rwanda’s launch of the first “made in Africa” smartphone, and Canada’s flow-through shares, an ownership model that attracts investment in mining exploration, with consequent benefits to local Canadian investors.

Moderator Daniele La Porte, World Bank, noted that mineral recycling is important but insufficient to meet expected demand, and the large minerals data gap in Africa needs to be addressed for African countries to benefit from the global renewable energy transition.

Hilary Morgan, Natural Resources Canada, stated Canada is actively trying to decarbonize mining and exploration, and play a strategic role in the green energy transition. Roberto Sarudiansky, Mining Policy Secretariat, Argentina, highlighted the political challenges due to Argentina’s federal governance system. He noted collaboration with the Mining Association of Canada to implement the Towards Sustainable Mining standards.

Participants suggested that while policy development is often successful, implementation and monitoring can be lacking.

The Value of Planning: Mine Closure and Post-Mining Transition

Moderator Eibhlin Doyle, Mining and Exploration Division, Ireland, opened the session with a video showcasing the repurposing of an Australian mine site to a pumped hydro storage facility.

 Noting that the 1992 Mining Act did not provide for mine closure, Jerry Garry, Managing Director, Mineral Resource Authority, Papua New Guinea, outlined how his country has identified current governance gaps using the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Mine Closure Checklist for Governments to develop its own Mining Project Rehabilitation and Closure Guidelines, which will factor into its upcoming Mine Closure Policy, legislation and regulations.

Doyle noted that one of the first documents mine operators must submit to the Irish government is a mine closure plan, and operators must also establish a protected bond for mine closure. She offered the example of the closed Lisheen mine site, which is now a biorefinery turning agricultural waste into biodegradable plastics.

Tom Butler, CEO, International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), discussed the updated ICMM integrated closure toolkit, released in 2019, covering critical elements such as early definition of the closure vision, progressive closure, strategies for relinquishment, and social transition planning. He stressed that closure is “a shared endeavor” with opportunities for partnership with authorities and the local community.

The panel concurred that the industry had sullied its name regarding closure and rehabilitation, and called for better working methods. Butler stressed that ICMM members anticipate around 80 mine closures in the next decade, and are committed to leading by example.

Delegates shared country perspectives on upcoming mine closures, rehabilitating old mining sites and related legal requirements and practices. They asked about concrete mechanisms to forecast, calculate and assure finance for closure and remediation, mitigate financial risk, and how to balance economic, environmental and social interests.

Supporting Transition in Coal Regions

Moderator Michael Stanley, World Bank, presented the Bank’s recent activities supporting regions affected by disruption in the coal sector worldwide, highlighting the importance of communities and workers, environmental reclamation and asset repurposing, and ensuring consultative multi-stakeholder planning processes to build consensus.

Catharina Sikow-Magny, European Commission, introduced the Commission’s Coal Regions in Transition Initiative and Platform to facilitate exchange of experiences, multi-stakeholder and high-level political dialogue, monitoring of progress, and financial support.

Anna Zvolikevych, DTEK, noted that the Ukrainian government’s restructuring plan for coal mines is a response to business realities such as aging infrastructure and harder-to-mine coal seams. She highlighted her company’s rising investment in renewable energy, and the need for job creation in coal regions.

Michael Weberink, CEO, German Hard Coal Association, said German hard coal production ceased in 2018. As part of the mine closure process, Weberink said miners were offered early retirement or placed in other industries, and profits were placed with the RAG-Foundation to finance future costs arising out of coal mining activities.

Jhon Olivares, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Colombia, cautioned that coal is the sole income source for 350 000 households in his country, and that a transition should include diversifying mineral production, and improving mining industry standards.

Participants called for considering the affordability of renewable technology and future carbon costs when transitioning away from coal. They called for putting in place measures to avoid “dead cities” occurring as a result of mine closures.

Transformative Tools for Promoting Gender Equality in Mining Governance

Moderator Sohinee Mazumdar, UNDP, noted that the top impacts identified in gender equality and mining are: lack of voice and participation in decision making; access to employment and education; increased risk of gender-based violence; and exposure to environmental contaminants and health risks.

Boujke Theeuwes, Solidaridad, underscored the central role of economic empowerment in realizing women’s rights.

Fernanda Benavides, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Colombia, discussed her Ministry’s efforts to develop a baseline of information on the status of women in mining. She also highlighted her Ministry’s development of a gender policy for mining, to be presented by year-end and implemented in 2020, with an initial focus on voluntary compliance.

Ayasgalan Molor, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Mongolia, discussed the Ministry’s 2019-2026 Gender-Responsive Policy in Geology, Mining, Petroleum and Heavy Industrial Sector, noting authorities, communities, companies, research institutes and scientific organizations had been involved in identifying the main issues and challenges. Their survey had identified the need for women to have a greater voice in decision making, balanced working hours, and training opportunities.

In breakout groups, participants shared concrete actions and platforms available in their countries. Some cited women’s associations and faith organizations as channels for reporting of problems.

ASM Minerals for Climate Resiliency

Moderator Caroline Ngonze, UNDP, introduced the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme to build capacity in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), which concerns minerals and materials that are mined, processed and used locally in construction, manufacturing and agriculture. She highlighted the significance of those assets and activities in post-disaster reconstruction.

ACP country representatives cited various improvements and developments that were enabled through the programme.

Raijeli Taga, Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, Fiji, mentioned improvement of legal frameworks and the national disaster database. Roy Nicholson, Commissioner of Mines, Jamaica, described developing a nationwide mining register that will enable the government to locate post-disaster reconstruction materials when needed, as well as capacity building and joint training programs with quarry operators and the development of mineral legislation.

Regina Asariotis, UNCTAD, discussed Small Island Developing States’ need for construction materials in making transport resilient and for marine aggregate in beach replenishment to counter coastal erosion.

Jeanne Pascual, Ministry of Mines, Cameroon, presented Cameroon’s action plan on construction materials, training and capacity building activities, and a special project in Bora for the construction of more resilient houses using modern manufacturing methods for soil bricks.

Panelists highlighted: the importance of industrial aggregates for rebuilding road networks; the utility of national mapping of development minerals; the need to ensure that the minerals and material sector is integrated into national post-disaster needs assessments; and consideration of how tariffs and non-tariff barriers might affect access to construction materials during post-disaster reconstruction.

Global Tailings Review Consultation

Moderator Bruno Oberle, Chair, Global Tailings Review, introduced the process toward creating a standard for fair, safe and sustainable management of mine tailings. He outlined the multi-stakeholder process, saying trust and willingness to compromise are essential.

Elisa Tonda, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), outlined focus areas, including: better governance of tailings dams; awareness raising and assessing current standards and good practices; and information gathering on where tailings dams are sited. She noted the launch of a portal to gather the above information.

Tom Butler, CEO, ICMM, said the Review process provides a common norm and language, and expressed hope that the standards will be taken up by governments and integrated into formal codes.

Adam Matthews, Church of England, said the Church’s GBP 3 billion pension fund invests in mining companies, and finds the lack of consistent standards to be problematic. He highlighted issues of concern, including an increase in tailings accidents, failure to implement past recommendations, and treating mine waste as an economic externality.

Susan Joyce, Common Ground Consultants, explained the draft standard has five areas of focus: knowledge base; affected communities; design, consultation, operation and monitoring of tailings facilities; management and governance; and emergency response and long-term recovery.

Panelists anticipated forthcoming challenges will include implementing the standards for tailings management, networking to manage ecosystems around the mines, and meeting the global investor network’s expectations of transparency.

European Partnerships for Responsible Minerals (EPRM)

Jan Pieter Barendse, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands, moderated the session. Boukje Theeuwes, EPRM Chair, explained that the multi-stakeholder partnership seeks to improve socioeconomic conditions for mine workers and mining communities, focusing on conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

Louis Maréchal, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), emphasized extractives’ importance for conflict-affected states, acknowledging the risks of human rights violations and terrorism financing. He stated the private sector “has leverage” and can be a force for change.

Virginie Bahon, Valcambi, presented the CAPAZ project, which developed the Code of Risk mitigation for ASM engaging in Formal Trade (“CRAFT Code”), a code of progressive compliance for gold artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) producers. She explained the Code is being revised, and, after a pilot in Colombia, is being scaled up with Burkina Faso, Costa Rica and Ghana next in line.

Jhon Olivares explained that Colombia needs to ensure traceability of its mined gold as it is becoming an OECD member. He discussed a draft law on illegal mining, and technical assistance for small producers to bring them into legal and responsible production.

Lotte Hoex, International Peace Information Service, Belgium, discussed an EPRM-backed project in the DRC focused on ASGM with two components: building capacity in mining cooperatives, and creating an incident monitoring and reporting system.

In discussion, participants raised: how EPRM can raise producer awareness of the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation; how conflict mineral rules have shifted the supply chain from large companies to “murkier” middle men making traceability difficult; the adaptability of the CRAFT Code for other minerals; whether EPRM will handle other responsible mining issues such as decent wages; and whether conflict mineral rules are making mining sector formalization more difficult.

Stranded Mineral Assets and the Future of Mining: Evidence and Practice

Moderator Vanessa Ushie, African Development Bank, introduced a video on “stranded assets,” relating the concept to projected downturns in markets for coal, oil, gas and other assets. Mario Jales, UNCTAD, presented the 2019 UNCTAD commodities and development report that focuses on transition risk in commodity-dependent countries, warning that stranded assets may lead to “stranded countries.”

Nicolas Maennling, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, noted future reduction in coal demand, and said that more flexible timeframes for decarbonization, or financial support for the energy transition, could address equity concerns.

Richard Morgan, Anglo American, highlighted steps his company is taking to avoid stranding and reduce their carbon footprint, including by developing solar hydrogen.

Vincent Kedi, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda, noted that stranded assets are a threat to developing countries. He stressed Uganda’s vulnerability to climate change, and highlighted funds and support available through multilateral institutions, funds and donors.

Carolina Sanchez, Mining Policy Secretariat, Argentina, said the anticipated increase in lithium demand provides both benefits and challenges, including managing social expectations, price volatility, and world trade tensions.

In the ensuing discussion, participants debated incentivizing change using carbon pricing, diversification in the face of climate change, coordination across government agencies to meet NDCs, and ensuring benefits accrue to local communities.

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