The Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) is to lead a year-long initiative to define an investor agenda for the mining sector to ensure it can effectively support the low-carbon transition.

‘Mining 2030’ will focus on eight systemic issues that could impact the mining sector’s social licence to operate and disrupt the role it must play in the low-carbon transition, for example via the supply of minerals.

Starting with a series of investor-led roundtables, the initiative will work with industry, the UN and other stakeholders to identify the interventions that are needed to address each of the eight issues.

These are: resources for the transition; deep sea mining; biodiversity and land use; mine waste (tailings) and site closure; climate change; automation and future workforce; indigenous rights; and artisanal mining and child labour.

“The role of the mining sector in supporting the low-carbon transition is poorly understood,” said Adam Matthews, chair of Mining 2030 and chief responsible investor of the CEPB.

“There is an unavoidable dependency on key minerals that requires significant growth in the mining sector. This is both an opportunity for the sector and also a major risk as eight systemic issues, if not addressed sector-wide, could seriously undermine the global transition.”

He said those involved would develop an investor agenda for “fundamental change” across the sector to be achieved by 2030.

“This sector is too important to society and the low carbon transition, and best practice and global standards need to be supported,” he said.

A key focus of the initiative will be to review the proliferation of ESG data, identify potential for consolidation around global best practice standards, supported by transparency and independent verification of whether standards are being applied at mine sites, wherever they operate.

The roundtables will also consider the potential for alignment across the investment, insurance and banking sectors.

John Howchin

“There is an impactful model here that can be replicated on other issues and I look forward to supporting the work of Mining 2030.”

John Howchin, former secretary general of the Council on Ethics of the Swedish AP Funds

Mining 2030 builds on the lessons learned by investors through engagement with the sector following the 2019 Brumadinho disaster in Brazil. The establishment of the Investor Mine Tailings and Safety Initiative, convened by the CEPB and the Council on Ethics of the Swedish AP Funds, led to a series of interventions focused on driving transparency and creating a global standard for tailings dams.

That initiative is now working with the UN to establish an Independent Global Tailings Institute to promote sector-wide adoption of the standard.

“Investors have shown what can be achieved through determined interventions working with industry and the UN following the Brumadinho disaster,” said John Howchin, global ambassador for the Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative and former secretary general of the Council on Ethics of the Swedish AP Funds.

“There is an impactful model here that can be replicated on other issues and I look forward to supporting the work of Mining 2030.”

The first Mining 2030 investor roundtable, held yesterday, was on the topic of critical mineral supply chains. Investors were due to hear from experts at the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Asked which other investors are involved in the initiative, CEPB said the initiative would be announcing an investors steering committee next month as well as other partners to the initiative.

“Roundtables are open to all investors and we have already received very considerable interest from asset owners and fund managers and expect to exceed the level of involvement in the Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative (which is $20 trillion),” a spokesperson said.

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