Gold mining companies like Barrick Gold has done a lot to mitigate and manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks associated with gold mining. Image credit: Barrick Gold

22 September 2020 – Gold contributes to SDG’s. This is the message from the World Gold Council (WGC). To coincide with the 75th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly – and the SDG Business Forum, the WGC has published a report titled Gold Mining’s Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The report outlines how leading gold mining companies are making a significant contribution towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It includes 39 case studies on how members of the WGC are bringing about positive change across four thematic areas: global partnerships; social inclusion; economic development; and responsible operations, energy, and the environment. Examples of the commitments the gold mining industry has made towards sustainable strategies include:

Global partnership: WGC members are committed to playing their part in multi-stakeholder partnershipsCase studies showcase a wide-ranging malaria programme as well as partnerships that provide water education and medical supplies to communities.

Social inclusion: WGC members are committed to improve social inclusion in the countries they operate it, through the actions gold mining companies are taking to support a more gender inclusive workplace, opening opportunities for indigenous people and strengthening their human rights track-record.

Economic development: WGC members support the socio-economic development of the communities in which their mines are located. This is highlighted in the report by a number of case studies which cover targeted investment in and creating direct and indirect jobs for locals, working with farmers to share their produce, bringing down mortality rates with nursing and midwifery training, strengthening public health systems and tackling infectious diseases such as malaria and TB and supporting education programmes.

Responsible operations, energy, and the environment: Gold mining companies have made significant strides in reducing energy and water use. This is highlighted in the report by showing energy efficiency programmes, increasing use of renewable energy as well as projects that look to minimise the volumes of water used at mine sites while also ensuring that local communities have access to clean water and sanitation.

The report also contains three “spotlight” sections, focusing on the work of WGC members in helping to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the strong links between the SDGs and the Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMPs) and the significant, and often-overlooked, role gold plays in a range of technologies which are key to driving sustainable development.

According to Terry Heymann, chief financial officer at the WGC responsible gold mining can lead to sustained social and economic development. “This report provides a clear demonstration of the positive role that responsible gold mining operations can bring to their local communities and support delivery of the UN’s SDG’s.

“The UN’s deadline of 2030 to meet its SDG’s will soon be upon us and it is vital that the pandemic is not allowed to postpone the progress made to date. While it presents its own challenges, the current situation has brought the need for sustainable business practices to be at the heart of everything that companies do. We are proud of the contributions our members have already made and will continue to make to achieve the SDGs,” says Heymann.

Sandeep Biswas, CEO of Newcrest Mining and chair of the WGC ESG-taskforce says that the report shows that the WGC members are committed to progressing towards the UN SDG’s. “Given the breadth of countries where gold mining occurs, our industry is well placed to make further significant contributions to achieve these global goals.

“We recognise our duty to mitigate and manage material environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks associated with gold mining and maximise opportunities for our host nations and communities. Under the WGC’s Responsible Gold Mining Principles, members of the WGC are committed to supporting sustainable socio-economic and technological development. While there is still much work to do, we are proud of all that we have achieved to date and are determined to continue progress towards the UN SDG’s,” Biswas concludes.

 

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