22.06.2022 X4D at the 15th OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains: Side Event on a Shared Vision on Responsible Mining
Within the last years, the number of due diligence frameworks has increased and so have the expectations concerning corporate action; however, in the mining sector, translating due diligence requirements and guiding principles into practical action and positive change continues to be challenging. Gathering perspectives and inputs by different stakeholders from the Andean Region, China and Europe, the panel discussion focused on overcoming practical obstacles and identifying opportunities for cooperation towards a responsible mining sector. Estelle Levin-Nally form Levin Sources moderated the event.
In his welcoming words, Dr. Sören Dengg, Head of the Division “Energy, Hydrogen, Raw Materials” at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), highlighted the need for stakeholders from governments, private sector and civil society working together. Only through collaboration can a vision of responsible mining, which includes mitigating negative effects and consolidating the contributions of the mining sector to local sustainable development, be achieved.
Lihui Sun, Director of Development from the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) pointed out that stakeholders in China were closely observing international calls and initiatives for respecting human rights and implementing environmental and social due diligence standards in the mining industry. China has recently developed different due diligence standards and tools (e.g., the Chinese Due Diligence Guideline for Mineral Supply Chains). Moreover, CCCMC has advocated for upstream and downstream enterprises and stakeholders to carry out joint action in the context of developing standards, which for example has resulted in the Responsible Battery Initiative (RBI).
The Executive Director of CSR Europe, Stefan Crets, shared insights on how downstream companies can contribute to a shared vision on responsible mining, highlighting that collaboration is needed to make due diligence work: due diligence is about active engagement of companies, there is a “duty to collaborate”. A good example is the initiative “Drive Sustainability” which promotes sustainability and engages with stakeholders throughout the global automotive supply chain.
Nicolas Maennling, lead of the GIZ-project “Regional Cooperation for the Sustainable Management of Mining in the Andean Countries” (MinSus), provided insights into the growing number of due diligence standards and certifications in the Andean Region. He highlighted that in the future the focus should not only be on mitigating negative impacts but also on leveraging more of the positive impacts that the sector can have.
Ana Carolina González Espinosa, Senior Director for Programs at the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), pointed out that the key for implementing due diligence frameworks in the Andean Region is to strengthen resource governance and empowering communities. The main incentives for companies to implement due diligence are the ability of communities and the local civil society to hold companies accountable and the ability of host states to enforce due diligence. Ms. González Espinosa also highlighted the need to address corruption in the mining sector, which often poses an obstacle to the implementation of due diligence.
Franziska Killiches, Expert for Sustainable Raw Materials Procurement at the Volkswagen Group, provided insights into the implementation of due diligence at the Volkswagen Group for which an OECD-compliant Raw Materials Management System was developed. The system goes beyond the OECD Guidance, looking at indigenous rights, occupational health and safety, and environmental risks. She pointed out the need for coherent due diligence regulations and a global level playing field. Beyond the implementation of due diligence, the Volkswagen Group, together with other downstream companies, finances a project to create a local stakeholder platform in Chile’s lithium- and copper-rich Salar de Atacama.
The panel was followed by a lively discussion and Q&A session. More than 100 registered participants from over 20 countries were a testament to the importance that many stakeholders in the extractive sector place on due diligence.