ACCORDING to Anglo American’s chief executive officer metallurgical coal business Tyler Mitchelson, the mining industry needs to present a sustainable future to ensure continued stakeholder support.

“There is no doubt that societal expectations are shaping the future of our industry,” Mr Mitchelson told attendees at the 2019 International Mines and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne.

“The mining industry must present a compelling picture about its future to its workforce and communities to continue to grow and prosper.

“In the future, when someone refers to ‘mining’ I hope they see a picture of people doing valued work in a cleaner, smarter and more socially responsible way, providing the essential ingredients for modern life.”

Mr Mitchelson said the stakeholder ecosystem is becoming more complex, thanks to societal changes, climate change, greater political instability, growing dislocation and migration, and hyper inequality.

“We can expect that the next decade will bring fundamental changes in stakeholder expectations about the way we develop and operate our businesses,” he said.

“We’ve seen this from our investors already, as Environment-Social-Governance, or ‘ESG’, factors are fast becoming mainstream.”

Consumer behaviour is following suit, affecting purchasing behaviours and pressuring brands to ensure their products are responsibly sourced – and Mr Mitchelson said the mining industry needs to adapt to these changing demands.

“For commodity businesses, this is resulting in new initiatives with third party assurance of ESG factors, not only reflecting what is today good industry practice, but responding to evolving stakeholder values,” he said.

The mining giant has responded by developing the 2030 Sustainable Mining Plan, with ambitious targets including a 30pc improvement in energy efficiency and an 30pc reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

Mr Mitchelson said the plan aims to foster innovation and deliver step change results across the entire mining value chain, from mineral discovery right through to marketing our products to customers.

“Anglo American’s purpose is to re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives,” he said.

“Focusing on sustainability offers us the opportunity to change our industry narrative and shape our future.”

Changing the mining narrative is no easy task, but it appears that Anglo American is walking the walk and talking the talk – staying at the forefront of the of the movement to third party assurance of ESG factors and showing stakeholders that it is committed to a sustainable future.

“Recently we announced that our Unki platinum mine in Zimbabwe would be the first mine in the world to publicly commit to be independently audited against the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance’s Standard for Responsible Mining, and all of our managed mines will be certified through such independent rigorous certification processes by 2025,” Mr Mitchelson said.

“This will provide our customers with the ability to satisfy their ethical sourcing responsibilities, which undoubtedly will become more and more prevalent throughout the world, as they have in Europe.

“As an industry, I believe that it is our responsibility to present a compelling picture about where we are heading – and our people and communities must feel that they are part of the solution.”

In recent years Anglo American has been on a journey towards sustainability, developing its Social Way system for managing social performance, and the FutureSmart Mining approach – however it remains to be seen if the shift towards more sustainable practices will be enough to boost stakeholder support.