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Global mining and metals companies have committed at Davos to take urgent action to support a nature-positive future by 2030 that promotes the health, diversity and resilience of species, ecosystems and natural processes.

International Council of Metals and Minerals (ICMM) members, representing a third of the global industry, have pledged that meeting the demand for critical materials must not be at the expense of nature.

ICMM brings together a third of the world’s mining industry to drive sustainable development.

South Africa-linked member companies and organisations include African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, Glencore, Gold Fields, Sibanye-Stillwater, South32, Minerals Council South Africa, and Mining Industry Associations of Southern Africa.

ICMM’s new commitments set out a five-point plan for nature:

  • Protect and conserve pristine areas of the natural environment: No mining or exploration in World Heritage Sites and respect all legally designated protected areas.
  • Halt biodiversity loss at operations: Achieve at least no net loss of biodiversity at all mine sites by closure against a 2020 baseline.   
  • Collaborate across value chains: Develop initiatives and partnerships that halt and reverse nature loss throughout supply and distribution chains.
  • Restore and enhance landscapes: Around operations through local partnerships, including with Indigenous Peoples, land-connected peoples and local communities.
  • Catalyse wider change: Act to change the fundamental systems that contribute to nature loss and foster opportunities for nature’s recovery.

These commitments apply to activities across all four realms of nature – land, freshwater, oceans and atmosphere – leveraging companies’ areas of influence – from their direct operations, value chains and wider landscapes, through to creating the conditions required to achieve systems transformation. They are supported by transparent disclosures on performance outcomes, including publishing the results of nature-related impact and dependency assessments, and setting targets to address these.

“The mining industry owes its very existence to nature. At a time when the health of our natural world is in peril yet the demand for critical minerals is set to soar, we have committed to significant collective action to help create a nature-positive future,” ICMM president and CEO Rohitesh Dhawan stated in a release to Mining Weekly.  

These commitments build on the individual goals and actions of ICMM members over several decades, including habitat conservation, species protection and landscape restoration.

“There is no escaping that the act of mining directly affects nature, which is why the cornerstone of our commitments is to ensure at least no net loss of biodiversity at all mine sites by closure against a 2020 baseline.

“In addition, we have committed to take steps in our value chains, landscapes, and the wider systems in which we operate so that the total impact of our actions contribute to a nature-positive future. These will be taken with the critical participation of Indigenous and land-connected peoples, and local communities, whose rights, values, and knowledge will be central to our actions,” Dhawan said.

Examples of initiatives ICMM members have already implemented include strengthening protection for areas of high biodiversity value, developing innovative technologies for improved seed performance during landscape revegetation, and defending important habitats from invasive species. ICMM’s new commitments will enhance these to drive performance across the industry.

Nature advisory group chairperson Jonathan Price, who is also the CEO of Teck Resources, described collaboration across all sectors as being essential to help reverse nature loss and restore landscapes for the benefit of all.

THREE-TO-ONE RECLAMATION

“At Teck, we’re taking action to conserve and restore nature while we also provide the critical minerals the world needs to decarbonise. For us, that means implementing initiatives including conserving and reclaiming at least three hectares for every one hectare we affect through mining,” Price disclosed.

Nature positive initiative convenor Marco Lambertini spoke of sector-wide coordination being key to reversing the accelerating loss of biodiversity.

“This means safeguarding areas with high biodiversity value and contributing in their operations to measurable gains in the health, abundance, diversity and resilience of species, ecosystems and natural processes,” Lambertini added.