The world is changing and the key drivers in a sustainable world will soon be fundamentally different from those of today. According to the UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013, 63% of chief executives expect sustainability to transform their industry within five years.3 Mining and metals companies have a tremendous role to play in a sustainable world. The sector operates on every continent except Antarctica and provides materials that are integrated in almost every product and service around the world. Given its scope and essential role, the sector is uniquely positioned to contribute to the transition to a sustainable world.
The project life cycle for mining and metals operations can easily exceed 50 years. In addition, operations are fairly static: if the working environment becomes unsatisfactory, operations cannot be easily moved. Consequently, mining and metals companies are accustomed to investing time and money in developing long-term plans and forecasts, and effective planning helps them to protect their assets.
Planning for the future is not a precise science, and understanding the balance between what is reasonable, courageous and impossible is exceptionally difficult. History suggests, however, that society tends to overestimate what is achievable in the short term and underestimate what can be done in the long term.
At the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2013, the Governors for the Mining & Metals Industry asked the Forum to prepare a scoping paper on the role and contribution of mining and metals companies in a sustainable world in order to inform the Forum’s future programme of work. This paper seeks to set the strategic vision for mining and metals companies in a sustainable world and to outline their immediate priorities.
Furthermore, the paper identifies potential activities where the Forum can support the mining and metals sector to navigate the transition to a sustainable world.