Gold mining has long been a major economic driver for many countries, and heightened attention on making resource extraction more transparent and accountable has boosted the sector’s reputation for bringing socio-economic benefits to businesses and communities.
“Profitability and returns for shareholders are important, but there is also increasing awareness across the industry that we’re not really winning if we don’t take care of the broader society,” says Randy Smallwood, CEO of Wheaton Precious Metals and chair of the World Gold Council (WGC). “We have to continue searching out ways to help communities get the best and most sustainable benefits from [gold mining] operations.”
WGC members, Wheaton among them, position themselves as some of the most forward-thinking gold mining companies globally, and this means “demonstrating a commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices, and high standards of environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.”
Wheaton embraces its role as “a change agent,” says Mr. Smallwood. “We owe it to our shareholders and all our stakeholders – including communities and neighbours – to help our operating partners be the best they can be.”
This includes drawing on the company’s extensive expertise to work with partners on improving overall sustainability and social impact. As a streaming company, Wheaton has the advantage of “working with many different operations around the world,” he explains. “We get to see what works – and what doesn’t work so well.”
Mr. Smallwood welcomes an industry-wide drive towards improving environmental performance and decarbonization, demonstrated by Wheaton’s recently published 2021 Sustainability Report. “An area where we’ve made great strides is disclosure. WGC members, for example, are stepping up reporting of climate-related financial information through the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).”
CEO, Wheaton Precious Metals and chair of the World Gold Council
From the premise that climate change presents a risk to the global economy, the TCFD created a framework that aims to provide financial markets with “clear, comprehensive, high-quality information on the impacts of climate change, including the risks and opportunities presented by rising temperatures, climate-related policy and emerging technologies.”
Disclosure increases transparency on impacts, which can then help to create a roadmap towards addressing them, Mr. Smallwood says. “The level of information that is disclosed goes up steadily every year, along with plans on how we can mitigate climate risks, including reducing our carbon footprint.”
From a commitment to work with industry and community partners on advancing sustainability and ESG performance, Wheaton is co-funding programs and initiatives that are designed to tackle challenges on the ground, he says. “For us, a company with a global reach, the local community impact is incredibly important. We consider these communities our stakeholders, partners and neighbours.
“As part of the broader resource industry, we believe we owe it to society to do what we can to effect positive change.”
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.