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  • Coming Together to Advance Gold's Sustainability Impacts

    11 April, 2024

    Late last month we co-hosted the 2nd Precious Metals Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Summit in London with the LBMA.

    The first such event, in 2022, was significant in not only signalling the closer, more co-operative relationship between our two organisations that has developed over recent years, but also the wider move to greater collaboration across the whole gold supply chain. It eventually led to the Gold Industry Declaration of Responsibility & Sustainability Principles (aka the #GoldPrinciples), triggering an ongoing dialogue on how the industry demonstrates its sustainability credentials and impacts (of which more later…).

    But, before we move on to consider future collaborations, I would like to thank the LBMA team for helping deliver such a professional and appealing event.

    And, working together, we agreed a programme of presentations, discussions and workshops that I think covered a compellingly wide range of challenges and opportunities of relevance for gold market stakeholders as we consider our shared sustainability objectives. It’s fair to say that, as we planned the agenda, we may not have entirely agreed on the focus and content of some sessions. However, even as we debated those issues, we remained very mindful of the need for the gold sector to be encouraged to look beyond its immediate operational boundaries, to consider Big Picture social and environmental outcomes and opportunities for material change.

    The Summit was opened and closed by the LBMA’s CEO Ruth Crowell and Vice-CEO Sakhila Mirza, in tandem with our CFO Terry Heymann.


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    In between, I was pleased to moderate two panel discussions – with panellists drawn from across the whole gold value chain:

    Session one explored industry convergence on climate change actions, and how these actions are evidenced or evaluated by different segments of the supply chain (mine to market / rock to ring). This included a contribution from Andrew Parsons, VP of Climate and Sustainability at our Member company Gold Fields, describing the significance gold mining companies can have on catalysing local decarbonisation, often as ‘first movers’ in locations with little additional support, capacity, or infrastructure. Andrew was joined by Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of jewellery sustainability coalition the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030; Emma Leith, VP of ESG at mining investment house La Mancha Resource Capital; and Michelle Richardson, the Chief Impact Officer at Royal Canadian Mint.

    The second discussion focused on the need for the global gold market to respond to the shifting expectations of investors, consumers, and wider society (increasingly codified in regulations) on how companies and sectors can demonstrate their contributions to wider social and environmental progress. Thanks also for their valuable insights to Charlie Betts, MD of Betts Group; Alice Vanni, CSR Director at precious metal refiners Italpreziosi; Jill Cooper, Director of ESG at specialist investment firm Orion Resource Partners; and Dr Stacy Hope, MD of Women in Mining (UK) and a Partner at leading sustainability consultancy ERM.


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    This latter issue - how to build on the foundations of responsible sourcing good practice by coming together to explore the industry’s ability to identify and act on agreed sustainability objectives - is what motivated the creation of the Gold Principles. And now we have broad agreement among 14 key signatory organisations from across all segments of the industry and corners of the globe, we take advantage of events such as the recent Summit to meet and explore how to advance our collective goals, hopefully to the benefit of all gold’s stakeholders and beyond. The signatories’ group met again last week to discuss how to gather evidence and ‘proof-points’ of progress, whilst planning for further collaborative actions.

    Returning to the conference agenda, our Senior Advisor Edward Bickham also contributed to a group discussion on how the industry might identify potential paths to progress when facing the substantial challenges presented by ‘informal’ artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). These challenges were further highlighted by the contributions of a number of speakers on a subsequent panel looking at the escalating risks imposed by geopolitical conflict and irresponsible (often illicit/illegal) entities seeking to benefit from the lack of market regulations and formal ‘capacity’ in many ASGM locations.


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    Reflecting our eagerness that Summit delegates consider how the wider markets and policy space are evolving, we invited keynote speakers from well beyond the gold industry to encourage delegates to think about key issues shaping the expanding sustainability agenda. These included: exploring the opportunities for growth that may be embedded in a decarbonising economy; the UN’s moves to encourage greater gender equality and women’s empowerment; and the significance of corporate actions to preserve nature and reverse biodiversity loss. Thanks again to a great set of speakers: Akshat Rathi, Mihwa Park and Harry Wright, respectively. (Additional kudos to Harry for being voted by the Summit audience as ‘best speaker’!)

    As I left the Summit, one of the comments I overheard (and that has stayed with me) was that the event had both a ‘positive energy’ and an ‘honesty’ in its content and tone. I am interpreting this as indicating that the gold supply chain now recognises the importance and, indeed, urgency of the issues discussed at the Summit and welcomes opportunities for further cross-industry engagement as we strive to better understand and act on those issues.