Those with a keen eye will note that our website indicates we support the objectives of seven of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If you are of a slightly cynical or skeptical nature, or have seen the effects of using the SDGs as a greenwashing tool (a seemingly prolific activity), then you will have dismissed the reference to the SDGs on our website with a sniff (at best) or (at worst) immediately have assumed that we are, like many other actors in this space, attempting to use our so-called “alignment” with the goals as a greenwashing exercise.

I myself have a difficult relationship with the SDGs – I think the goals themselves are commendable, worthy, necessary even, but I have my doubts about our collective ability to achieve them – and I see very little coordinated, government-led action or progress towards them. A recent report from the UN itself concurs that, “in almost all areas, the pace of progress is never sufficient to meet the targets”. However, as we all know, if you don’t have goals, you’re not working towards anything, so let us acknowledge the challenges with them, while continuing to do what we can to contribute to the achievement of these commendable, and necessary, goals.

In that context, then, what business does a mining company have in this space, if you peel away the greenwashing, and speak honestly? I’m going to summarize our approach to each of these seven goals in simple, transparent terms, that will ultimately be reported on in our annual report (our first annual report will be published at the end of 2022, and will be publicly available on the Annual Reports page of our website).

Today I’ll start with Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation. Goal 6 has three parts:

  • Providing access for all to safely managed drinking water;
  • Providing access for all to safely managed sanitation;
  • Reducing stress on shared water resources.

In very simple terms, here’s how we will contribute to, and measure ourselves against, Goal 6:

  • Access for all to safely managed drinking water and sanitation:
    • We will ensure access at all times for our workforce to safely managed drinking water and sanitation (an essential, but hardly notable, commitment);
    • We will contribute to government and community programs in the communities in which we operate (a pretty standard commitment by mining companies, and one which doesn’t mean a whole lot right now). At present, our teams are located in cities and towns in the United States and Canada, where government-provided infrastructure is already achieving this goal. As we move into broader community settings, we will work with government and community partners to contribute both financially and in-kind to meaningful, effective projects that align with the needs of the community and the relevant government framework. We anticipate broadening our geographic footprint in 2023, and therefore our 2023 Annual Report will include a more detailed set of commitments, including measurable objectives, to achieving this goal.
  • Reducing stress on water resources:
    • We believe we can, and will, contribute extremely significantly to this goal by bringing to market a mineral processing methodology that does not use freshwater, and therefore does not compete with, or place pressure on, freshwater resources. This would be a considerable innovation and step forward for the mining industry as a whole, particularly if it were able to be deployed for terrestrial mineral processing as well as processing of seabed minerals. We will report on the progress towards this contribution in our first Annual Report (due for public release in early 2023.

And next time I’ll talk about what we’re doing towards the next SDG Goal.