The Safety and Sustainability Committee’s mandate is to uphold the commitment of Newmont’s Board of Directors to promote a healthy and safe workplace, and environmentally sound and socially responsible resource development. At each meeting, the Committee reviews with management the top sustainability risks and the Company’s efforts to address these risks through best practices and integrating sustainability considerations and standards into all stages of the mining lifecycle.
Implemented more than five years ago, the Company’s sustainability strategy – which the Committee and full Board review annually – has delivered tangible business value. Strategies – including those focused on water, energy and climate change, human rights, artisanal and small-scale mining, and closure and reclamation – have helped drive improved behaviors and performance. The country risk program has increased Newmont’s understanding of socio-political risks in countries and sub-regions, and the Company’s new Supplier Risk Management (SRiM) program has been a step change in identifying and managing risks within the Company’s vast supply chain.
In 2018, the Company continued to progress leading environmental, social and governance performance. However, challenges remain, and throughout the year, management provided the Committee updates on the strategic programs that aim to respond to evolving risks and business needs and align actions with stakeholder and societal expectations.
The fatalities at the Ahafo Mill Expansion project and Pete Bajo underground mine require a focused response to prevent such accidents from ever happening again. The Committee discussed Newmont’s Fatality Risk Management program and the sharing of lessons learned from these accidents with thousands of employees and contractors at locations around the globe, along with the broader mining industry. These are positive steps, and we look forward to furthering discussions on the effectiveness of these efforts to eliminate fatalities from our workplace.
The recent tailings dam collapse at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine in Brazil, resulting in significant human and environmental losses, further heightens attention on how mining companies manage tailings facilities. The Committee believes Newmont’s efforts to enhance its tailings governance and to identify the critical controls that are most effective at preventing tailings dam failures are crucial steps in preventing such catastrophic events.
The Company’s expanded approach to developing social baselines – anchored in findings from the report published by the Expert Advisory Panel that studied our engagement with local indigenous groups in Suriname – demonstrates Newmont’s leadership in translating best-practice concepts into site-based performance. Management discussed how the SRiM program’s human rights screening process, which was introduced in 2018, has strengthened the Company’s ability to manage human rights risks within its supply chain. The Committee expects future programs, including training suppliers on human rights and auditing those suppliers with the highest likelihood to impact human rights, to continue to drive improvements and prevent violations. The work in 2018 and planned future developments better position the Company to prevent and detect human rights issues.
The Company recognizes that stakeholders increasingly want to know how mining activities improve their lives now and in the future. The development of economic impact reports has helped Newmont engage with government officials, and other stakeholders interested in the fair distribution of revenues from mining, to show how the Company contributes to the economies in the countries and communities where we operate. The Committee is also pleased with Newmont’s commitment to advancing its public goals by developing outcome-based objectives and targets in key areas including contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Discussions in 2019 will include updates on: advancing Newmont’s water strategy toward water stewardship; preparing to report against the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures; identifying opportunities to reduce chemical use and mine waste; and implementing a responsible sourcing strategy that meets downstream users’ expectations for responsibly sourced gold and copper. We will also review an updated global occupational health and wellness strategy, and evaluate efforts to further reduce injury rates.
The social and political challenges facing the mining industry and the demands placed on Newmont continue to grow and shift. We look forward to continuing the conversation with management on strategies to anticipate, manage and adapt to those challenges and demands, and achieve the Company’s purpose to create value and improve lives through sustainable and responsible mining.
Joseph A. Carrabba
Chair, Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors