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Always searching for better

3 March 2022

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

These words from Maya Angelou are my inspiration, writes ICMM's Ro Dhawan, for the work we do at ICMM, and neatly capture what we aim to do with each three-year strategy cycle. Always searching for better, and then doing better. Sceptical? I get that.

It is self-evident that no matter where we are in the world, metals and minerals are a part of our everyday life. Life as we know it, and as we would like it, would not be possible without these commodities. Passenger electric car sales, for example, are projected to soar from 3 million in 2020 to 66 million in 2040. Electric vehicles require roughly six times more minerals and metals than cars with internal combustion engines. That’s a huge increase in demand lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, aluminium and steel.

Simply put, the ‘green’ version of almost anything means the use of more metals. But ICMM doesn’t see this as a license for industry to mine them at all costs. Quite the contrary, we see the imperative to mine with principles.

I cannot think of a more important and exciting time to be a part of the mining industry and our role in society. And I am pleased to share with you our 2022–2024 strategy. A strategy that is designed to help us know better so that we can do better.

From 2018-2021, we made important progress in a number of areas. Out of the deeply tragic tailings dam failure at Brumdinho in 2019 was born the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management. Co-convened with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), we agreed a comprehensive new standard for the safe management of tailings facilities globally and committed significant resources to speedy and full implementation.

We continued to champion the cause of transparency and openness, making the first commitment of any industry at large to publicly disclose contracts with governments. In addition to taking actions ourselves, ICMM doubled down on our commitment to support others such as the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) doing critical work to ensure that citizens gain maximum benefits from the resources that belong to their countries.

Over the past three years, the world’s focus rightly shifted to our accelerating climate crisis and its interdependencies with the sixth mass extinction of nature and increasing water scarcity. We made significant progress in the best practice management of water which will see ever higher levels of efficiency and transparency in water use and enhanced management of shared water resources. We were proud to have been the first industry group of our size to make a commitment to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, with clear pathways for how we will achieve them.

The last three years also showed us the acute challenge of managing global responses to social crises; none greater in magnitude and impact than Covid. I am inspired by the life-changing support our industry has offered throughout the pandemic to enhance access to critical care through community health and vaccine programmes, and by contributions to other organisations that are working on the front lines.

Finally, we laid the foundations for a long-term commitment to support our colleagues and community members build the skills to thrive in a changing world. As part of our commitment to ensuring a just transition, ICMM’s Skills for our Common Future Initiative has seen us partner with others to develop the tools and resources to help people secure their futures in an increasingly automated, climate-stressed and unpredictable world. The tragic destruction of cultural heritage at Juukan Gorge further underscored the importance of advancing our work on social performance more broadly, which is a key theme in our strategy going forward.

The last three years have been pivotal for ICMM and the mining industry, but arguably the next three will be even more so, and we have a long way to go. We need to show the courage of our convictions and be open to new ideas of better if we are to fulfil our potential and contribute to a better world by 2030. I believe that effective leadership comes from collaboration and if you have been part of our 20-year journey, I thank you for making us who we are. If you are new to us, you are very welcome and I encourage you to get in touch to help us get to where we want to be tomorrow.