IISD Reporting Services IISD

IGF Bulletin

Saturday, 24 October 2020


16th Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF)

20-22 October 2020 | Virtual


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage at: http://enb.iisd.org/igf/agm/2020/

The 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) focused on the theme of “Mining and COVID-19: From Crisis to Sustainability.”

The meeting sought to bring diverse perspectives on how the mining sector is navigating the COVID-19 crisis, and how governments are responding. Participants discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on various aspects of mining, including employment, community resilience, gender equality, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), climate action, resource taxation, and technological innovation.

Key issues addressed included loss of employment in mining communities due to border closures and decreased worker mobility, health and safety concerns, and increases in poverty and food insecurity. Speakers cited, for example, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) estimate that the number of working hours lost to COVID-19 is equal to the loss of 500 million full-time mining jobs. Nevertheless, many speakers also noted the opportunity to transition to a more sustainable mining sector and the possibility of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through such efforts. They expressed optimism for the sector’s recovery in 2021.

Participants discussed a number of concerns during the meeting related to:

  • maintaining mining companies’ social license to operate, through greater accountability to local communities, trust building, and developing a shared vision whereby the profits of mining adequately benefit source countries;
  • improving domestic revenue collection from the mining sector through tax reforms, including measures to reduce tax base erosion and profit shifting, and greater transparency in minerals pricing;
  • using digital technology to replace physical labor in mining, and training workers with the relevant skills in robotics, automation, and remote equipment operation;
  • developing policies for mine closure, including financial assurance to support closure and rehabilitation of old mines before land is returned to communities for other uses;
  • greening the mineral supply chain by reducing carbon emissions in mining and transport of minerals;
  • and adopting tools and approaches for gender impact assessments, to better understand the potential impact of mining projects in exacerbating, or reducing, existing gender inequality patterns, as well as impacts on ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples’ territories.

A key feature of AGMs has been the review and sharing of guidance documents developed by the IGF Secretariat and its partners. Earlier this year, participants were presented with IGF guidance on improving legal frameworks for environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) and management, which summarizes international best practices in this area. Another session presented upcoming IGF guidance for governments on environmental management and mining governance, which was published as a draft for further consultation.

The AGM also heard about measures to implement the new Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, developed after the tragic collapse of the Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil in January 2019, which killed 270 people. The Global Standard was published in August 2020, following a consultation process that took place in seven languages, led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Church of England’s Pensions Board, and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

The AGM took place from 20-22 October 2020 in a virtual format, due to the global spread of COVID-19. More than 1800 participants from 110 countries registered for the three-day event, with two sessions running in parallel, much of the time. One-third of participants were from government ministries and agencies, including some ministers, deputy ministers, and other high-level officials.

In meeting polls, many welcomed the virtual format, noting it enabled many more participants to take part in the deliberations. Some participants also used the online chat space to engage in group discussions during the presentations, a move that the organizers welcomed as promoting engagement with the topics at hand. During the closing session, Greg Radford, Director, IGF Secretariat, proposed future AGMs continue to find a way to incorporate online participation. The 17th AGM will take place in the autumn of 2021.

This report provides a brief history of the IGF and a summary of discussions of the three-day AGM.

A Brief History of the IGF

The IGF serves as a global platform for dialogue among member governments, mining companies and industry associations. It is an outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WSSD encouraged governments, civil society and private sector actors to enter into voluntary partnerships focused on sustainable development objectives. Its Johannesburg Plan of Implementation specifically called for efforts to address the environmental, economic, health and social impacts and benefits of mining, minerals and metals throughout their life cycle, including worker health and safety issues, and to promote transparency and accountability for sustainable mining.

Following the WSSD, the Governments of Canada and South Africa were instrumental in establishing the IGF. It was announced in February 2005 as a voluntary initiative for national governments interested in promoting good governance in the management of mineral resources. To date, the IGF has 76 government members.

The IGF’s work is largely framed by its flagship policy guidance and assessment tool, the Mining Policy Framework (MPF), which was first presented at the 19th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in 2011. The MPF identifies best practices through six pillars of mining policy and law: the legal and policy environment; financial benefit optimization; socio-economic benefit optimization; environmental management; mine closure and post-mining transitions; and ASM.

In 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) convened to assess global sustainable development policy. Its outcome document, “The Future We Want,” further boosted the IGF’s work. Besides calling on the international community to negotiate a set of SDGs, the Rio+20 outcome urged governments and businesses to promote accountability and transparency in the mining sector, as well as improve existing mechanisms to prevent illicit financial flows from mining activities.

In October 2015, the IGF Secretariat moved from its home at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

The IGF AGMs first convened in 2005 with 25 member countries. They provide a forum in which members can engage with industry, civil society and each other on best practices, and exchange knowledge and ideas. Previous AGMs have discussed topics relevant to the MPF, including: fiscal and legislative frameworks for investment in the mining sector; revenue sharing; community engagement and benefits; the role of women in mining; and post-mining transitions, including mine closure and rehabilitation of mine sites. AGMs also present draft guidance on various aspects of sustainable mining, before public release. Most recently:

  • in 2016, the 12th AGM provided an opportunity for IGF members to consider the SDGs’ relevance to the mining sector;
  • in 2017, the 13th AGM produced IGF guidance for governments on managing ASM;
  • in 2018, the 14th AGM discussed the impacts of increased global lithium demand on mining, and the contribution of ESIAs, tax reform, and community engagement in sustainable mining; and
  • in 2019, the 15th AGM: focused on “mining in a changing climate,” discussing ways that companies are starting to reduce emissions from mining operations and adapting to changes in the environment, such as increased water scarcity and disaster risks; and reviewed draft guidance on ESIAs, prior to its subsequent release.

Report of the Meeting

Session 1: Welcome and High-level Remarks

Isabelle Ramdoo, Deputy Director, IGF Secretariat, opened the IGF AGM on Tuesday on behalf Greg Radford, Director, IGF Secretariat. She provided an overview of the IGF’s role, noting it provides a platform for stakeholders to engage on ways to further the sustainable governance agenda. She said this year’s theme, “Mining and COVID-19: From Crisis to Sustainability,” aims to bring a diverse range of perspectives on how the mining sector is navigating the crisis and responses of governments.

Aïssatou Sophie Gladima, Minister of Mines and Geology, Senegal, outlined the difficulties COVID-19 has posed, including: decreased mobility of workers; health and safety issues; and efforts to avoid large-scale downsizing in the sector. Gladima said support thus far has included the fair distribution of benefits and bolstering government capacity to address these issues. She further stated that ensuring the welfare of the most vulnerable sectors of society, namely women and children, is key.

Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, said the pandemic presents an opportunity to transition to a more sustainable global economy. German efforts to achieve this, he detailed, include addressing climate change and environmental degradation through transitioning to carbon-neutral energy and transport sectors, and ensuring responsible, sustainable supply chains. He cited steps to support these efforts, including: developing key points of a due diligence legislation in Germany; supporting EU-wide regulation on the issue; and supporting the G7 CONNEX Initiative to improve the quality of advisory support provided to low-income country governments in their negotiation of complex commercial contracts.

Luis Miguel Incháustegui Zevallos, Minister of Energy and Mines, Peru, said that, following COVID-19, the Peruvian mining sector is expected to have one of the largest economic recoveries in 2021, with the creation of approximately 600,000 new jobs. He noted key areas of focus include improving the competitiveness of the sector, while preserving the health and welfare of those workers and communities impacted. Incháustegui said any activities undertaken in the mining sector must ensure the trust of and buy-in from local communities.

Daniel Kaufmann, President Emeritus, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), outlined the most pressing global challenges, including: the COVID-19 pandemic; the global economic downturn; climate change; and increased natural resource demand. He suggested addressing these through: integrated resource plans that seek to avoid “silo” effects; investment plans that contribute to energy transitions; and better governance. He emphasized the need for a new shared vision for the mining industry, its stakeholders and its resources.

The IGF Secretariat then conducted a number of online polls, including opinion surveys, as well as general knowledge questions about the future of mining. The polls highlighted, for example, that World Bank figures indicate global demand for graphite, lithium and cobalt will rise by 500% by 2050.

Session 2: The Future of Mining Employment and Skills

Aaron Cosbey, IGF Secretariat, introduced this session on Tuesday. Moderator Nicky Black, Director, Social and Economic Development, International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), drew attention to issues around how to recruit and train workers in the skills needed to work with new technologies, options that governments can take, and how non-governmental stakeholders can help. Black outlined ICMM’s “Skills for our Common Future” initiative that undertakes partnerships to accelerate and build skills in mining communities over a 15-year period.

Casper Edmonds, Head of Unit, Extractives, Energy and Manufacturing, Sectoral Policies Department, ILO, underscored the number of working hours lost due to COVID-19 is equivalent to 500 million full-time jobs lost in the mining industry globally. To endure the current era of uncertainty, he asserted that skills and investing in them are critical, and the mining sector should adopt the concept of life-long learning.

Musa Fazal, Group Director, Planning Group, SkillsFuture Singapore, outlined Singapore’s process for developing a sectoral skills strategy, stating it must: include a skills framework, including a transformation plan for the sector; leverage big data to identify emerging skills; and ensure a robust training sector. He said these are multi-stakeholder endeavours that must be constantly updated.

Janne Kaiser-Tedesco, Advisor, Extractive Governance and Organizational Development, German Agency for International Cooperation, underscored that automation in the mining sector will likely translate to less employment for members of remote mining communities. She emphasized a role for mining companies and governments to promote local skills development and transfer, but said the majority of these have a limited impact. Factors for success, she stated, include demand-driven programmes and on-the-job training.

Questions posed by the audience addressed: how to integrate capacity building into tight construction or production processes or timelines; how ASM features in the future skills of mining; and the need to ensure a common understanding about expectations and accountability in public officials through capacity building.

Session 3: Global Standards for Environmental and Tailings Management

On Tuesday, Greg Radford, Director, IGF Secretariat, presented a video introducing the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, which was developed through a process co-convened by UNEP, PRI and ICMM, following the collapse of a tailings dam in Brumadinho, Brazil, in January 2019, which killed 270 people. The Global Standard was launched in August 2020.

Moderator Jenifer Hill, IGF Secretariat, elaborated on the current development of the IGF’s next guidance for governments on environmental management and mining governance, which was published as a draft for consultation ahead of the event. She invited participants to contribute feedback on and suggestions for the guidance document.

Aidan Davy, Chief Operating Officer, ICMM, and John Howchin, Secretary-General, Council on Ethics, Swedish National Pension Funds, presented on the process toward implementation protocols, including an ICMM Tailings Management Good Practice Guide, and a Conformance Protocol that will map closely to Global Standard requirements.

Davy explained that the Conformance Protocol will ensure integration of the Standard into ICMM’s assurance processes for members, and support self-assessments or independent third-party assessments of progress.

Howchin welcomed the interest and support shown by bankers, investors and insurers. He called on everyone to seriously address the issue of tailings management, as the mining industry’s social license to operate has been questioned. He noted the process of developing the Standard was informed by a multi-stakeholder advisory group, and a thorough, seven-language process of public consultation was undertaken.

Davy introduced the six topic areas in the Global Standard: affected communities; an integrated multi-disciplinary knowledge base; design, construction, operation and monitoring; management and governance; emergency response and long-term recovery; and public disclosure and access to information. He noted the Global Standard strengthens existing standards and includes new requirements for management oversight.

Howchin recalled the Church of England Pensions Board’s role in launching its Mining and Tailings Dam Initiative. He said 726 mining companies were invited to disclose information about their tailings dams, and information on 1,000 tailings dams was publicly available through a partnership with UNEP.

Davy outlined requirements for ICMM members to comply with the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management within a three- to five-year period, with the shorter timeframe required for all facilities classified as having extreme or very high potential consequences of inaction.

Participants posed questions about disposal, upstream construction, entry points for adaptation to climate change, and the transparency challenge of changing “centuries-old corporate culture” at mining companies. Davy emphasized the application of climate knowledge is “hard-wired” into the Standard, especially regarding the requirement to maintain an integrated knowledge base. Howchin remarked tailings have been treated as an externality of mining, and the Brumadinho accident had led to greater recognition of the need for responsible tailings management.

Participants also inquired about how the proposed independent institute to oversee implementation of the Global Standard would be funded, and how current initiatives can influence the work of unlisted mining companies and the ASM sector.

Howchin reflected on the need for a broader conversation regarding how society views responsibility in the mining industry. Davy considered that, through industry partnerships and cooperation with UNEP and PRI, “conduits of influence” that reach beyond listed companies are possible.

Howchin concluded “Mining is not tobacco: it’s not something we can divest from; it’s the backbone of global industry.” He noted the insurance industry is interested in understanding which mining investments are better and safer investments.

Session 4: Building Resilient Communities: Can We Leverage Impact Investment Mechanisms?

Isabelle Ramdoo, Deputy Director, IGF Secretariat, introduced this session on Tuesday. Åsa Borssén, Series Host and Program Coordinator, Highgrade Media, moderated the first part of the session, which discussed the role of impact investment in communities and their resilience.

Elias Masilela, Chair, Impact Investing National Task Force, South Africa, outlined different types of investors, stating the present-day impact investor is a long-term investor that aims to weather economic cycles and secure positive returns for at least two generations. He said the major difference between an environmental, social and governance investor and an impact investor is that the impact investor asks “What is the change I want to bring about in the environment, so I can maximize my profits over a long period of time.” Masilela said investment is still largely privately sourced and thus requires governments to provide the right investment environment.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive, Anglo American, said mining companies’ relationships with communities are changing from “paternalistic relationships” to true partnerships that look towards the future of local communities beyond the life of the mine. Cutifani suggested impact investing look beyond corporate social responsibility as it invests in infrastructure to allow the long-term diversification of mining communities’ economic base, based on community needs. Noting that without community support, mining lacks a future, he said Anglo American looks to use automation of mines as a catalyst to create five offsite jobs for every one onsite job.

Ramdoo moderated the second part of the session, which addressed community perspectives, and examined the need to rethink community development support.

Tracey Cooper, Executive Director, Mining Dialogues 360°, stated that COVID-19 has created a greater awareness in communities to drive change. She cited, as an example, how South African citizen action networks have engaged with the private sector during hard lockdowns to ensure food security for the community and strengthen local food systems.

She noted communities’ awareness to demand higher levels of transparency in decision-making processes. She lamented “skewed power relations,” and suggested engaging community mediators to provide a neutral space for stakeholders to work together and create partnerships.

Cooper said impact investment makes the business case for long-term environmental and social investment, shifting the focus towards seeing action on the ground. She said consideration of impact investment at the planning stage for mining projects is key. She stressed a one-size-fits-all approach does not exist as each community is different. 

Session 5: Global Mine Closure Needs—Government and Industry Responses

Matthew Bliss, IGF Secretariat, introduced this session on Tuesday. Moderator Jessica Bezuidenhout, Managing Director, Environmental Compliance Consultancy, stressed that mine closure is “a key pillar” in sustainable mining, and practice is continuing to evolve.

Pieter Swart, PhD Candidate, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, reported on a survey of 16 mining operations’ practices around mine closure. His research found that 75% of jurisdictions in the survey required mine closure plans, while 25% did not. The research also found that 75% of respondents lacked adequate agreement records around mine closure. He noted inadequate financial assurance for mine closure and said criteria for successful mine site rehabilitation are often not formally agreed.

Dawn Brock, Manager, ICMM, drew attention to the ICMM’s Integrated Mine Closure Guide, released in 2019. She explained governments are introducing more stringent requirements for mine closure. She recommended engaging early with stakeholders in post-mining transition planning, sharing knowledge, and promoting collaboration among governments, mining companies and stakeholders.

Andrew Gunua, Chief Mining Warden, Mineral Resources Authority, Papua New Guinea (PNG), noted that PNG’s 1992 Mining Act had no provisions for mine closure, whereas its 2000 Environment Act has some provision for mine closure plans to be activated within five years of intended closures. He explained financial assurance at the outset will enable such plans to be implemented in the event of sudden closure of operations in various scenarios of abandonment, premature closure, or state refusal to renew a mining license. He stressed the need for indigenous engagement and representation.

Raina Hattingh, Closure Planning Specialist, BHP, referred to IGF’s support in 2017-18 for the Namibian government to review its practices. The review found that recommendations made were often unenforceable. She stressed mine closure targets must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound), regulatory teams must have the technical capacity to implement regulations, and collaborative regulator-industry relationships are fundamental to developing mine closure solutions.

Alberto Santos Capra, Director of Sustainable Mining, Ministry of Mining, Argentina, discussed the G7 CONNEX Initiative, which is advising the Ministry of Mining in Catamarca province. He reported a survey of mining companies in Argentina showed that 50% had a mine closure plan approved by the competent authorities. He noted a draft bill will be presented in 2021, and that mine closure recommendations are currently in place for three different mining projects that are approaching closure.

Participants asked about how technical capacity can be built during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hattingh encouraged everyone to consider using existing online training resources. She reminded governments that mining companies are often keen to have regulators visit their sites, and that they may be able to request flyovers and, when the opportunity returns, site tours.

In closing, Bliss highlighted an example of a cooperative approach in mine closure, in which a local community had requested the government continue providing electricity, which the company had been providing during the mining operation. In cooperation with the company, a hydro-electric arrangement was developed, driven by the downhill flow of water from the mine.

Session 6: Responding to COVID-19 in the ASM Sector

On Wednesday, Alec Crawford, IGF Secretariat, introduced the session, which was moderated by Adam Rolfe, Senior Manager, Good Governance, Levin Sources.

Aïssatou Sophie Gladima, Minister of Mines and Geology, Senegal, highlighted actions including developing a new national ASM strategy and establishing a fund worth 100 billion West African Francs to support ASM miners during COVID-19.

Carolina Rojas Hayes, Vice-Minister of Mines, Colombia, said the Colombian government had ensured personal protective equipment (PPE) was available to the sector, and USD 2.5 million was budgeted for temporary aid for ASM workers. She said the sector is expected to play a key role in economic recovery.

Online polls showed that participants believed governments should focus on economic recovery of the ASM sector and were generally optimistic about the sector in 2021.

Rachel Perks, Senior Mining Specialist, World Bank, together with Nathan Schneck, Pact, presented on the impacts of COVID-19 on the ASM sector, drawn from data collected by the Delve Project—a global platform for ASM data in order to better understand and meet the needs of the sector. Key messages included:

  • COVID-19 infections in ASM communities will adversely impact human capital development;
  • little gender discrimination exists in accessing work;
  • female miners are more food-insecure, a vulnerability the pandemic has exacerbated; and
  • as ASM workers intend to continue mining, an opportunity exists to continue efforts to formalize the sector.

Perks further pointed to a funding window offered by the World Bank to support ASM communities in light of the pandemic.

Rolfe, presenting on research conducted by Levin Sources, said challenges faced by ASM communities include limited health infrastructure availability. He underscored that informality is still prevalent in the sector, and policy responses must bear this in mind. He urged future ASM projects and programmes to differentiate between legitimate operations in the informal economy, and illegal and illicit mining activities.

In the ensuing discussion, participants underscored the need for a consensus among policymakers that strategies for ASM-dominated countries must include formalization to sustainably develop the economic sector.

Session 7: Future of Resource Taxation: Challenges and Opportunities

Åsa Borssén, Series Host and Program Coordinator, Highgrade Media, introduced the speakers at this Wednesday session. Participants watched a video on the IGF and the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) project, “The Future of Resource Taxation,” which aims to improve mining taxation systems in developing countries.

Alexandra Readhead, IGF Secretariat, highlighted opportunities and challenges from recent automation and digitization of the mining sector, as low-skilled jobs decreased, diminishing payroll taxes and other economic benefits. She argued that global demand for minerals essential to the low-carbon energy transition are a chance for countries to capture more of the mining value chain and benefit from higher resource prices.

Beatriz Olivera, Researcher, Fundar, Center for Analysis and Research, said Mexico’s mine fund, supported by companies, lacked accountability. She called for decentralization of such resources, greater efficiency, greater accountability, and fighting corruption.

Segolo Lekau, Acting Commissioner General, Botswana Unified Revenue Service, explained that Botswana’s partnership with private-sector mining companies since the country’s independence in 1966 meant that decisions could be taken in the interests of citizens. He stated the crucial factors in this arrangement’s success included adherence to the rule of law, transparency of taxation arrangements, and ceding of mineral rights from the counties to the state, so benefits can be distributed equitably.

David Murray, Tax Policy Principal, Anglo American, remarked that royalties may deliver a higher share of returns, but overall returns may be smaller.

Wayne Swan, former Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Australia, called for addressing multinational tax evasion, especially transfer pricing and debt dumping. He noted his government’s attempt to introduce a new resource rent tax in 2010 had not survived, due to mining companies’ “propaganda.” He stressed the first step in tax reform must be to mobilize public opinion to oppose powerful vested interests.

Logan Wort, Executive Secretary, ATAF, said a public campaign should address not only multinational corporations’ behavior, but also government complicity in corruption. He urged political will at the African Union level to consider key issues around extractive industries’ sustainability.

Participants posed questions about how a fair share of benefits from mining can be defined, what financial reserves should be created for post-mining rehabilitation, whether mining companies can offset corporate taxes by providing public goods, and what strategies, besides litigation, can be applied to resolve disputes.

Readhead observed that governments need expertise to correctly assess the value of mineral exports. Swan highlighted Australia’s 2013 transparency legislation, which requires all large companies to publish their total taxable income and tax paid, saying the law had resulted in huge repayments to the government.

Session 8: COVID-19 and the Future of Responsible Sourcing

Moderator Alec Crawford, IGF Secretariat, introduced this session on Wednesday. Yannic Kiewitt, Chair, European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM), said COVID-19 exposed the fragility of many responsible sourcing programmes. He stated the EPRM can assist with responsible sourcing through mobilizing resources, sharing knowledge and experiences, and raising awareness on responsible sourcing. He drew attention to the forthcoming entry into force of the EU Regulation on Responsible Sourcing of Minerals in January 2021, underscored the EPRM’s due diligence hub, and called for producer countries to engage with the EPRM on these issues.

Louis Maréchal, Minerals and Extractive Sector Lead, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said responsible sourcing policies have had minimal negative impact from COVID-19, in stark contrast to the on-the-ground impacts of the pandemic. He also noted governments have continued to engage on incentive measures, if they were already doing so prior to the pandemic.

Nobuhle Mabhikwa, Programs Officer, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, said that in the Zimbabwean context, a national shutdown resulted in halting production, wage insecurity, price increases in input products due to border closures, foreign currency shortages, and additional costs of incorporating COVID-19 responses post-lockdown.

Virginie Bahon, Head of Corporate Affairs, Valcambi, pointed to lower export volumes due to a lack of flights. She said Valcambi has had to assist with some mines’ liquidity, and onboarding new mines is problematic due to difficulties in conducting site visits.

Natalia Uribe, Standards and Certification Coordinator and CAPAZ Supply Chains of Peace Project Leader, Alliance for Responsible Mining, noted payroll difficulties for Colombian ASM workers, price increases on goods to maintain safety protocols, and increased activity from illegal groups. She said areas for intervention include taking differentiated approaches in mining laws and integrating ASM into international supply chains.

Lotte Hoex, Conflict and Natural Resources Researcher, International Peace Information Service, noted trends in the pandemic’s impact on ASM and the supply chain, such as difficulties exporting goods, and a lack of liquidity forcing miners to accept lower commodity prices. Hoex lauded the sector’s resilience but said the pandemic exposed inequalities and showed that illicit miners received the best profit margins. These, she stated, underscore the critical importance of supply chain due diligence.

During the discussion, participants queried ongoing challenges in the gold supply chain, and questioned whether any changes had been made in how companies are ensuring due diligence in their gold sector operations.

Session 9: Future of Resource Taxation: Exploring Alternatives

This session took place in two parallel sub-sessions on Wednesday.

Splitting the Proceeds: This sub-session addressed gross profit split, production sharing, and a simplified resource rent tax. Thomas Lassourd, IGF Secretariat, introduced the speakers, and Mary Baine, Director of Tax Programs, ATAF, moderated the discussion.

Wilfredo Moncano, Acting Director, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Philippines, explained that the Government of the Philippines engages in profit-sharing agreements, whereby the partner mining company first recoups its pre-production costs during a “recovery period,” before government taxes are paid. He noted challenges, including lack of transparency around the true financial status of partners and the actual recovery period. He suggested the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, with other government agencies, should determine the length of the recovery period. He also recommended enhancing information sharing with mining communities regarding fiscal, financial and technical agreements supporting mining projects.

Thomas Baunsgaard, Deputy Chief, Fiscal Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund, cautioned that moving away from profit-based to production-based approaches, such as royalties, joint ventures and state equity participation, would not necessarily solve tax avoidance. He said this may, in fact, increase the marginal cost of production, thus deterring investment. He recommended linking royalties to commodity prices. He proposed a forward-looking regime would: impose natural resource rents in the source country, ensuring a reasonable level of revenue from the start of production, including through a cash flow tax; adopt transparent pricing arrangements; promote collaboration between ministries and regulatory agencies; and have clear policy and tax frameworks, such as a combination of withholding taxes and “safe harbor” rules.

Vincent Kedi, Assistant Commissioner (License Administration), Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda, remarked that mining has provided negligible benefits to African countries, due to corporate tax avoidance. He stated Uganda’s intention to adopt production sharing, which, he said, has been implemented by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Gabon.

Daniel Mulé, Senior Policy Advisor, Tax and Extractive Industries, Oxfam, on behalf of Viola Tarus, Extractives Strategist, Oxfam, noted that, regarding the relative merits of production-based versus profit-based approaches, the stability and predictability of fiscal regime matters. He said tax increases do not necessarily lead to more revenue, citing differences in low- and high-priced environments, and the example of windfall taxes that capture higher shares of resource rent. She highlighted the role of transparency and the value of financial modeling in enabling appropriate decision making around risk, for example, from commodity price fluctuations.

Responding to participants’ questions, Baunsgaard noted variation in pricing practices, with gold, for example, having transparent price indices, so value is easily assessed for royalty and income tax purposes. As an indicator of pricing transparency, he proposed considering whether sales are “a true market transaction” among non-related parties.

Changing Roles of the State: Looking at the IGF and ATAF’s new initiative, “The Future of Resource Taxation,” this sub-session queried how current mining taxation systems can be improved, and alternative ways countries can maximize returns from their mineral wealth.

Presenters discussed state participation and a model of competitive bidding for mining licenses as a way to improve revenue collection from the mining sector. Discussions delved into some of the innovative fiscal policies that governments are exploring, and heard about experiences from Afghanistan and Chile.

Session 10: Mining, Climate Change, and COVID-19—How the Pandemic Has Impacted Global Actions

Alec Crawford, IGF Secretariat, introduced this session on Wednesday. Participants viewed a short video on the “Race to Zero”—a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Following this, Nigel Topping, High-Level Climate Action Champion, UK, addressed the AGM, saying COVID-19 has spurred action and ambition to address climate change. Topping noted that the commitment of cities and large corporations to net-zero emissions has eased the way for governments to act. He cautioned change is not linear, but rather systemic, self-reinforcing, and difficult to predict. He urged the mining sector to join the “Race to Zero,” stating the ingenuity of the industry is critical for the energy transition. He cautioned value in the sector could be eroded if companies do not sign on.

Daniele La Porta, Senior Mining Specialist, World Bank, provided an overview of the climate-smart mining initiative, and spoke on the impact of COVID-19 in this area. She said the sector has seen temporary price reductions, along with a decrease in new mining project investment. She underscored the value of strong community relationships to enable mine sites to reopen more rapidly. She stressed the importance of mining to contribute to “building back better,” noting this provides an opportunity to diversify and green mineral supply chains and ensure increased resilience. She urged governments and industry to maintain a long-term focus on environmental and social protection policies.

Mike Buxton, Associate Professor and Section Head for Resource Engineering, Delft University, highlighted pressure for the mining sector to reduce its emissions and green its energy consumption. He acknowledged the importance of automation, but stressed the need for discussing potential negative impacts. He questioned whether governments or the private sector should lead efforts to reskill and retrain affected workers.

Benjamin Sprecher, Leiden University, echoed Buxton’s sentiments, and called for establishing positive relationships with local communities to address these issues. He said in the past, mutually beneficial relationships have led to profitable outcomes for the sector.

In closing, Crawford underscored the transition is underway and a sector-wide response to climate change is needed.

Session 11: How Can a Shared Vision on Mining Promote Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean?

On Wednesday, Moderator Natascha Nunes da Cunha, Senior Extractives Sector Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), explained the IDB has supported a process in some countries to strengthen public institutions, modernize practice, and seek broad consensus around mining for sustainable development.

Daniel Kaufmann, NRGI, observed the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the weaknesses of public health systems in many parts of the world, and encouraged totalitarian trends in some countries. He noted the related economic downturn has highlighted the need to diversify economies.

María Cristina Güell, National Mining Policy Coordinator, Chile, described consultations involving 1,500 participants from national bodies, indigenous peoples’ representative organizations, and other stakeholders. She pointed to the development of 19 new initiatives through this process, to be implemented from 2021, to help ensure mining benefits are socially inclusive.

Jaime Gálvez Delgado, Deputy Minister of Mines, Peru, recalled a commission on sustainable mining had begun work prior to the pandemic, producing 80 recommendations, but that the implementation process had stalled due to the political situation. He outlined current consultations in two areas with good mining potential, in the north and south of Peru, respectively.

Laura Ropolo and Sylvia Gimbernat, Subsecretaries, on behalf of Alberto Hensel, Mining Secretary, Argentina, noted that, under the country’s federal system, provincial-level governments manage mining policies and contracts. Ropolo said from December 2020, consultations will begin towards a common vision for the next 30 years.

Panelists considered lack of trust to be the main obstacle to successful stakeholder dialogues. They stressed participation processes must be legitimate and well-coordinated. Gálvez noted the difficulty of inter-agency coordination among specialist agencies. He said legal frameworks to support and give stability to public-private cooperation are needed.

Session 12: Community Engagement During COVID-19: Challenges and New Opportunities

On Thursday, the AGM’s third and final day, Marina Ruete, IGF Secretariat, welcomed session participants. Susan Joyce, President, On Common Ground, introduced a video on the impact of the pandemic on indigenous peoples in South America. In online polls, participants expressed their view that the top challenge for communities has been loss of employment, followed by economic and food insecurity.

Natascha Nunes da Cunha, Senior Extractives Sector Specialist, IDB, highlighted that the social license to operate remains a top issue for miners and stakeholders, and that communities are now better-informed and more vocal about their rights and needs. She explained the IDB is facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues to help find common ground.

Rocio Avila, Latin America Regional Program Coordinator for Extractive Industries, Oxfam, explained the COVID “new normal” is marginalizing communities that lack access to digital technologies. She underscored that measures to boost the economy should prioritize human rights, transparency, and environmental protection. Measures to promote economic development and work opportunities, she said, should ensure equal opportunity for both women and men.

Narcisse Dushimimana, Head of Mining Regulation and Inspection, Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, said, although the Rwandan government had allowed mining operations to continue as an essential service, around 19,000 jobs were lost due to border closures between neighboring countries, travel restrictions and disruptions to supply chains as a result of the pandemic.

Ana Cunha, Director of Government Relations and Social Responsibility, Kinross Gold, Brazil, recounted the company’s efforts to understand community needs through a stakeholder survey conducted by an NGO partner, followed by implementation of more than 40 social projects.

Daniel Kauffman, NRGI, said COVID-19 has created opportunities, including the chance to develop a consensus for the future at the local level, around how resource extraction can benefit local communities. He also praised the awareness COVID-19 has created of the need for a healthier, cleaner planet.

Joyce asked about the opportunities that currently exist to do things differently and questioned how “building back better” relates to community engagement. Avila responded saying companies and governments should use COVID-19 to recognize and acknowledge communities’ autonomy and build on this to create better channels of communication and dialogue. Dushimimana said opportunities in Rwanda center around ensuring employment levels remain at least similar to those pre-COVID-19, including through incentivized government recovery programmes.

Cunha reflected that the pandemic has provided an opportunity to increase awareness of communities’ ability to partner with mining companies to be a part of the solution and find more sustainable pathways. Nunes da Cunha underscored the importance of consensus building around the role of mining companies in sustainable development.

Session 13: IGF General Council

Council members met in a closed session on Thursday.

Session 14: Opportunities for Greater Gender Equality: Assessing Gendered Impacts of Mining Before Project Development

On Thursday, Ege Tekinbas, IGF Secretariat, welcomed participants. Moderator Adriana Maria Eftimie, Social Development Specialist, International Finance Corporation, announced the IGF, with International Women in Mining, have collaborated with GOXI, an online platform for dialogue on governance of extractive industries, to map policy tools and implementation on gender in mining. She noted the lack of gender-disaggregated data and recommended such data collection begin early in the life of a project.

Miriam Padolsky, Director, Science Policy Division, Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, outlined the 2019 Canadian Impact Assessment Act that makes it mandatory to consider the intersection of sex, gender and other factors—referred to as “gender-based analysis plus” (GBA+)—when assessing the impacts of major projects on federal lands in Canada, or lands outside of Canada. She explained mining projects affect indigenous territories, and therefore GBA+ provisions enable assessing impacts on indigenous rights, with government funding available to support public participation.

Ian Thomson, Policy Specialist, Extractive Industries, Oxfam, highlighted Oxfam’s guide on how to incorporate gender issues when conducting impact assessments. He called for including local expertise in assessments. Participants then viewed a video from Cambodia, which showed how Oxfam has partnered with the Highlander Association in Rattanakiri province to support gender impact assessments. The project used a mobile app to collect and share data among villagers, which, he noted, played a role in supporting community negotiations with a mining company.

Mónica Galeano Velasco, Gender Advisor, planetGOLD project, UN Development Programme (UNDP), introduced the project, which was undertaken in collaboration with Colombia’s Ministry of Mining and supported by the Global Environment Facility. She drew attention to Colombia’s launch of the mining sector’s first ever gender policy guidelines. She described current monthly talks organized by the planetGOLD project, in which participants discuss topics related to, inter alia, gender-based violence, impact of mercury on pregnant women, and sexual abuse.

Amparo Cornejo, Vice President, Chile Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Teck, stressed mining should not increase gender inequality. She lamented industry “has a long way to go” to ensure the benefits of mining are truly shared with women and vulnerable groups. She described research conducted with 420 indigenous women in Chile as the basis for a social programme addressing health, wellbeing, and support for small businesses.

Session 15: Rethinking ESIA at the Early Phase of Mine Development

Clémence Naré, IGF Secretariat, introduced the session on Thursday, noting it aimed to discuss the role ESIAs can play in responsible mining. Moderator Paula Dobbelaar, Technical Secretary, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment, pointed to challenges for the mining sector as demand shifts from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. She stated ESIAs play an important role in ensuring governments take responsible decisions. She drew attention to the increasing difficulty of conducting ESIAs in the mining sector due to the growing complexity of mining operations. She urged that ESIAs be conducted early on in the planning phases of mines.

Clémence Naré presented the IGF document, “Guidance for Governments: Improving legal frameworks for environmental and social impact assessment and management,” which provides tools, strategies and case examples for assessing and improving legal frameworks for ESIA and management. She said the guidance: links project phases to company and government responsibilities; provides an overview of good legal frameworks for ESIAs; and offers tools to assess whether legal frameworks truly respond to local communities’ demands and expectations.

Amparo Cornejo, Vice President, Chile Sustainability and Corporate Affairs, Teck, affirmed that the most pressing challenges relate to ensuring environmental impacts are understood by communities. She said their engagement process strives for transparency on this issue. She noted Teck’s early engagement to understand community concerns for incorporation in ESIAs. She said COVID-19 has meant technology has had to be used to continue community engagement, which, while adequate, is not as effective as in-person meetings.

Dobbelaar draw attention to the use of strategic environmental and social assessment (SESA) as a tool for national governments. She presented a video on the use of SESAs in Guinea, showing clips of interviews with Karim Samoura, Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment, and Michel Pothier, Director of Operations, Anglo-African Minerals. Both, she said, have used SESAs to ensure better coexistence of mining activities with national parks and the construction of a hydro-electric dam.

Teresa Macayo Marín, Environmental Mining General Director, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Peru, stated that the Peruvian legal framework allows less complex ESIAs when early stage exploration activities are being conducted. She said this was allowed following industry concerns that government expectations for ESIAs did not correspond to the project’s complexity.

Session 16: Technical Innovation in a Post-COVID-19 Era: Changing the Face of Mining?

On Thursday, Aaron Cosbey, IGF Secretariat, and Åsa Borssén, Series Host and Program Coordinator, Highgrade Media, invited participants to discuss how COVID-19 may have accelerated the application of new technologies in the mining sector and to comment on future trends.

Henrik Ager, President, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, anticipated that technology will be adopted to undertake operations remotely, for example, with the application of virtual reality tools and the use of drones for mapping the best transport routes in underground mines. He observed, however, that the mining industry is traditionally conservative, noting operations such as the Syama mine in Mali, the world’s first fully automated mine, are still rare due to companies’ fear of production disruptions caused by technology failure. He anticipated greater demand in the future for computing and programming abilities, and a decline in “handyman” skills.

Alejandra Wood, Executive Director, Center for Copper and Mining Studies, Chile, noted that digital technologies, such as robotics, are being widely adopted in mining, and a window of time exists to prepare the workforce to work in areas such as cybersecurity, data management and automation. She said, based on research done in the Andean region, digital technologies can contribute to productivity of the circular economy and open spaces for jobs, procurement and innovation, thus compensating for any negative impacts.

Froydis Cameron-Johansson, Group Head of International and Government Relations, Anglo American, drew attention to the role technology plays in removing gender stereotypes. She said this occurs, for example, as technology reduces the need for heavy physical labor, thus introducing more gender-neutral work roles, such as in operating control rooms and managing automated processes.

She called for encouraging more women and girls to work and study in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and ensuring workplaces are fit for women. She underscored that acceptance of remote work, because of COVID-19, has “shown us the art of the possible.”

Session 17: Closing Remarks

At the close of the meeting on Thursday, Greg Radford, Director, IGF Secretariat, remarked the meeting’s virtual format had enabled greater participation, with over 1800 people from approximately 110 different countries registered for the event.

Carolina Rojas Hayes, Vice-Minister of Mines, Colombia, said the minerals sector in Colombia has proven to be resilient. She said the ability to operate throughout the pandemic has allowed the sector to adapt more easily. She underscored close collaboration with local authorities and communities was essential. She stated that as mining is key to Colombia’s economic recovery, the government is working on a strategy that encompasses: stronger, more efficient institutional frameworks; diversifying the mineral matrix towards minerals essential for the energy transition; and recognizing the legal status of ASM miners.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive, Anglo American, said the industry needs to understand and articulate where it fits in society, and, more specifically, in relation to local communities. He underscored partnership with local communities as essential to ensure continued positive, long-term contributions to society. He posited that the pandemic has allowed people to better understand how societies work. He said the mining industry has a role to play in being a catalyst for health and safety in the home by ensuring safety in communities. He stated that COVID has provided an opportunity to make sure mining works for everyone.

Radford anticipated that, given the success of the virtual format, future AGMs may adopt a hybrid approach, bringing together face-to-face and online participation to continue the broad engagement seen at this AGM. He closed the meeting at 5:25 pm CEST.

Upcoming Meetings

Gender and Mining Governance: IGF, with UNDP Learning for Nature, is offering this online course on ways to: foster women’s equal engagement in mining projects; take action to eliminate gender-based violence in affected communities; and ensure investment in gender equality and women’s leadership in mining governance can lead to stable and resilient communities. The course takes place over four weeks and is free.  dates: 2-27 November 2020  location: online  www: https://www.learningfornature.org/en/courses/gender-and-mining-governance/  

Seminar on Mine Tailings Safety in the UNECE Region and Beyond: This seminar will convene in advance of the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties on the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, where parties are expected to adopt a decision on strengthening mine tailings safety in the UNECE region and beyond.  date: 1 December 2020  location: online  www: https://www.unece.org/index.php?id=55197  

Virtual Tailings and Mine Waste 2020: This conference provides a platform for exchanging knowledge and skills related to tailings and mine waste, and future issues facing the mining and environmental communities. The conference was originally scheduled to take place in Keystone, Colorado, US, but was moved to a virtual setting due to COVID-19.  dates: 15-18 November 2020  location: online  www: https://tailingsandminewaste.com/program/

Investing in African Mining Indaba: The 2021 Mining Indaba will convene under the theme “Resilience to Rebuild: The New Mindset for Mining Operators and Investors.” It will bring together stakeholders to advance mining on the continent, and support education and sustainable development.  dates: 1-4 February 2021  location: Cape Town, South Africa  www: https://www.miningindaba.com/Home

Getting to Equal in a Changing World: Second Global Gender in Oil, Gas and Mining Conference: This conference will explore gender equality in the oil, gas and mining sectors in the context of a changing world, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to provide a platform to: discuss policy, project implementation, and innovative approaches to address gender gaps; discuss progress made since 2018 in narrowing the gender gaps; identify the most pressing women’s rights issues facing the sectors; propose means of further collaboration to improve gender equality in extractive industries, and mitigate harm to women and girls in mining communities; and determine how to ensure follow up on progress and accountability.  dates: 3-4 March 2021  location: online  www: https://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2020/09/09/getting-to-equal-in-a-changing-world-second-global-gender-in-oil-gas-and-mining-conference

Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention: This convention on mineral exploration is expected to bring together more than 25,000 participants from 132 countries. PDAC 2021 will include: a Sustainability Program, featuring ways that companies are improving their sustainability performance; and an Indigenous Program, which will provide a platform for discussion on fostering cooperative, respectful and mutually-beneficial relationships between indigenous communities and the minerals industry.  dates: 7-10 March 2021  location: online  contact: Sustainability Program: Rose Stacey ([email protected]); Indigenous Program: Lesley Williams ([email protected]www: https://www.pdac.ca/convention

The Electric Mine 2021 Conference: This conference provides a platform to exchange ideas on best practices and discuss the unique challenges faced when trying to fully electrify mining operations in the face of increasing ventilation costs, deeper mine developments, and the need for miners to reduce their carbon footprint. Electrifying operations can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the environment of mine workers, and cut both operational and capital expenses.  dates: 15-16 March 2021  location: Stockholm, Sweden  www: https://web-eur.cvent.com/event/43b430e6-9fdd-49b2-83a4-66e21ec9a8b5/summary  

Fifteenth Session of the UNCTAD Quadrennial Conference (UNCTAD XV): The conference is UNCTAD’s highest decision-making body, and sets the organization’s mandate and priorities every four years. A forum on mining and sustainable development will take place during the forum. Originally scheduled for October 2020, the Conference was postponed to April 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  dates: 25-30 April 2021  location: Bridgetown, Barbados  www: https://unctad.org/meeting/fifteenth-session-united-nations-conference-trade-and-development-unctad-15

Sustainable Minerals ‘21: The 6th International Symposium on Sustainable Minerals (Sustainable Minerals ’21) is the postponed Sustainable Minerals ’20. It will discuss all aspects of material and metal usage by considering, inter alia: clean technology, tailings disposal, environmental impact assessment methodologies, coal waste, carbon emission controls, and sustainability from an industrial as well as a consumer perspective.  dates: 23-24 June 2020  location: Falmouth, Cornwall, UK  www: http://www.min-eng.com/sustainableminerals21/

Third Copper Cobalt Africa Conference: This conference aims to promote dialogue among stakeholders, and enhance understanding of new and existing technologies. Topics to be addressed include recycling and urban mining, as well as waste treatment and minimization.  dates: 13-15 July 2021  location: Livingstone, Zambia  www: https://www.saimm.co.za/saimm-events/upcoming-events/copper-cobalt-africa#

APCOM 2021: Applications for Computers and Operations Research in the Minerals Industries (APCOM) 2021 will provide a platform for industry and academia to exchange ideas on and discuss innovations in the sector. It will include sessions on environmental issues, including tailings management and mine closure, industry-wide projections, and mine planning and design.  dates: 29 August–2 September 2021  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www: https://apcom2021.com/

Standards and Opportunities for the Mine of the Future: This conference will include an exchange of knowledge and ideas on issues addressed by the recently published Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management and on guidance developed by the International Commission on Large Dams. It will bring together stakeholders in the sector to discuss, among other things, stakeholder engagement and affected communities, environmental impacts, and the possibility of mining with no tailings.  dates: 8-9 November 2021  location: Sun City, South Africa  www: https://www.saimm.co.za/saimm-events/upcoming-events/global-tailings-standards-and-opportunities-for-the-mine-of-the-future/

17th IGF AGM: The 17th IGF AGM will take place in autumn 2021 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.  The agenda will include a presentation of the IGF’s published guidance document on environmental management and mining governance.  dates: Autumn 2021  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www: https://www.igfmining.org/

For additional upcoming events, see http://sdg.iisd.org/

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