Managing environmental and social risk is nothing new to gold companies. In fact, it is among the most important aspects of their business. However, the gold industry has recognized the need for rigor and standardization in ESG (environmental, social and governance) reporting. To accomplish this, in 2019 the industry-backed World Gold Council (WGC) published Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMP).

Responsible Gold Mining Principles

Governance Social Environment
Ethical conduct: we will conduct our business with integrity including absolute opposition to corruption. Safety and health: we will protect and promote the safety and occupational health of our workforce (employees and contractors) above all other priorities, and will empower them to speak up if they encounter unsafe working conditions. Environmental stewardship: we will ensure that environmental responsibility is at the core of how we work.
Understanding our impacts: we will engage with our stakeholders and implement management systems so as to ensure that we understand and manage our impacts, realise opportunities and provide redress where needed. Human rights and conflict: we will respect the human rights of our workforce, affected communities and all those people with whom we interact. Biodiversity, land use and mine closure: we will work to ensure that fragile ecosystems, critical habitats and endangered species are protected from damage and we will plan for responsible mine closure.
Supply chain: we will require that our suppliers conduct their businesses ethically and responsibly as a condition of doing business with us. Labour rights: we will ensure that our operations are places where employees and contractors are treated with respect and are free from discrimination or abusive labour practices. Water, energy and climate change: we will improve the efficiency of our use of water and energy, recognising that the impacts of climate change and water constraints may increasingly become a threat to the locations where we work and a risk to our licence to operate.
Working with communities: we aim to contribute to the socio economic advancement of communities associated with our operations and to treat them with dignity and respect.

Source: World Gold Council: Responsible Gold Mining Principles

The RGMP sets ten ESG principles (see above) containing 51 items for companies to report on. The principals are a synthesis of a number of global standards already in use as well as input from a range of stakeholders and agencies. They are aimed at providing investor and consumer confidence that gold is ethically sourced.

About the Author:

Joe Foster has been Portfolio Manager for the VanEck International Investors Gold Fund since 1998 and the VanEck – Global Gold UCITS Fund since 2012. Mr. Foster, an acknowledged authority on gold, has over 10 years of dedicated experience in geology and mining including as a gold geologist in Nevada. He has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Barron's, and on Reuters, CNBC and Bloomberg TV. Mr. Foster has also published articles in a number of mining journals, including Mining Engineering and Geological Society of Nevada.

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