We were recently invited to attend and speak at the Eastern Economic Forum, a prestigious conference held each year in Vladivostok, Russia, for the purpose of building international co-operation and encouraging foreign investment in the Russian Far East. The event attracts leading governmental and business leaders, welcomed by President Putin, and we were privileged to be able to participate as part of two panel discussions.
Dr Tatania Fic, of our Central Bank and Public Policy team, presented on gold market dynamics as part of a session devoted to “The Everlasting Value: the Potential for Gold and Precious metals”. And I spoke on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and climate change issues, and gold mining’s response to the associated investor and societal expectations, as part of a discussion on “ESG in Manufacturing: Why Solving Global Problems Requires International Best Practice”
While both Tatiana and I were unable to attend directly, not least because of travel, time and visa challenges, we were able to participate remotely and speak ‘live’ to the substantial audience that had travelled to the event.
The ESG-focused session also featured the CEOs of the ICMM and Polyus, Russia’s largest gold mining company, and national company heads from a range of companies, including Siemens, and our Member company Kinross, one of the most successful foreign mining companies active in Russia.
This discussion was particularly significant as it can be taken as a far wider acceptance in Russia that ESG risks and factors are now key drivers of business and investment decision. Comments were made during the session that greater collaboration and convergence with international principles and standards is not only inevitable but desirable for Russian businesses.
In this context, I referenced our Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMPs) as demonstrating that that gold mining industry is now operating around a coherent and comprehensive framework, with public disclosure and independent assurance processes, that addresses all key ESG factors that are material to the industry and its many stakeholders.
This reinforces messages that our ESG team have presented to the Russian gold mining community at a number of events over the last year or two, including a dedicated workshop on the RGMPs, facilitated by the leading Russian mining conference organisers, MINEX, and moderated by myself.