Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) is to fund a US university’s work on sustainability in the mining sector, with the resulting work meant to assist the sector in assessing financial risk.

NBIM, the manager in charge of Norway’s NOK6trn (€699bn) Government Pension Fund Global, said the work by Columbia University in New York would be funded by a three-year grant.

It added that the project would study how a range of factors related to sustainability would influence the profitability of the mining industry.

The work, conducted jointly by Columbia Water Center, the university’s department of industrial engineering and operations research and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Development, will aim to develop models to quantitatively assess mining-related water and environmental risks, according to an NBIM statement.

“The data and models to be developed will be available to mining companies seeking to assess, manage and mitigate a broad range of environmentally induced financial risks,” it added.

“Other users include investors, mining companies, government regulators, non-governmental organisations and academics.”

Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive at NBIM, last year called for more rationality in the sustainable investment debate, with the need for more data to underpin all decisions.

NBIM has long advocated greater transparency over water management and in 2011 called for a universal approach to reporting.

The manager last year sponsored a report by CDP that highlighted the risk of water shortages to a range of sectors, including mining.

The report found that the impact of water shortages would be felt keenly in emerging markets including Brazil, China and India.

For more from Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management, see the current issue of IPE