Working towards a sustainable future for mining is a complicated process with a wide range of stakeholders requiring positive Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) outcomes. RPMGlobal has invested significantly to build the advisory and technological capabilities necessary for steering clients through an ESG-constrained world and embedding ESG as part of their approach.
Miners must navigate a complex role in the energy transition, balancing the challenge of sourcing future-facing mined commodities with growing shareholder scrutiny of their ESG credentials. With decarbonisation fixed near the top of the political agenda, ESG is firmly front of mind for mining leaders—underlined by KPMG's latest Global Mining Outlook, which ranked environmental risks and regulations as the industry's biggest risk and social license to operate at number three.
Helping miners transition to more sustainable and transparent operations is familiar ground for RPMGlobal, but the Brisbane headquartered company has capitalised on purchases over the past year to build a leading in-house ESG mining advisory division that leans on technology to deliver critical services.
Acquisitions reinforce specialist advisory services
The acquisitions of Australian mining-focused ESG service providers Nitro Solutions in June 2021 and Blueprint Environmental Strategies in September 2021 has grown the size of RPMGlobal's dedicated ESG team exponentially, enabling the company to hone its ESG capabilities by deepening its domain expertise in mining.
"ESG is not new for us, but we saw an opportunity to really take a leadership position in ESG mining advisory. That's why these two acquisitions were so strategic for us," said RPMGlobal Executive General Manager for Product Strategy, David Batkin. "We saw an opportunity to build the largest ESG team in global mining, and that was the key factor for us—getting scale and leadership on day one."
ESG strategies will increasingly rely on technology to gather, measure and contextualise data to determine performance and transparency, an area where RPMGlobal has refined its offering via the recent acquisitions. A longstanding deficit of digital tools for ESG to specifically aid the mining industry is now being addressed with demand for them similar to the onus on safety 10-15 years ago.
"There hasn't been digital tools for generalist specialists out there delivering ESG and sustainability measures," said General Manager for ESG, Ngaire Tranter. But the pace at which ESG requirements evolves now means digital tools are needed more than ever to keep miners agile, as they work to stay compliant with standards and climate-related disclosure rules.
"As we move into a world where there are quarterly disclosure requirements to markets around your emissions, you've got to move really fast. There is so much complexity when you're talking about mining operations, so we really need technology to help us move forward.
This aligns with what RPMGlobal is seeing in the mining advisory space as clients increasingly seek support and understanding of climate-related disclosures, such as last year's updated framework from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.
Reporting and maintaining compliance when reporting environmental footprints for public markets is attracting attention too—especially as stock exchanges increasingly insist on climate reporting.
With the acquisitions under its belt RPMGlobal has broadened and refined its ESG technology capabilities embedded in the company's suite of its mining specific software. The company has advanced its provision of practical and pragmatic solutions for clients, from emissions management through to building in rehabilitation during the design phase for mines. As an example, HAULSIM, a mining-specific simulation software, is being used globally to evaluate possible scenarios and requirements in the switch from diesel powered to battery electric, hydrogen or hybrid trucking fleets.
Technology's role in the Net Zero journey
The rush to set ambitious Net Zero targets accelerated in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow last November and momentum has remained high since then. There can be no talk of reaching Net Zero without the mining industry given the drive for transition metals, but miners too will need to embark on their own Net Zero journeys, adapting to new demands, conditions, and business models in the process.
Reporting emissions and understanding decarbonisation pathways is the first steps toward setting targets and taking action. This will be unfamiliar ground for some industry players but essential given all of their future activities will have to be planned around reaching Net Zero commitments.
"Technology will play an incredibly important role to get to Net Zero," said Batkin. "A mine changes day to day, and you need to be able to respond to those changes immediately. Technology is the only way that you can really do that. Given the variability in mining you can't rely on spreadsheets and need modern technology to accurately plan, simulate, reforecast and finetune your plans to get to those Net Zero commitments."
Few advisory and consulting services in the mining space combine a broad software portfolio with global ESG expertise in the same way as RPMGlobal, which advises across the value chain from original equipment manufacturers, to governments, to banks, and miners. Clients can call upon industry specialists in their fields that range from Australia's top decarbonisation expert to leading biodiversity figures.
"Whether it's the software or advisory component, the thing that we offer is being solutions focused," said Tranter. "We're pragmatic, we recognise that it's not one-size-fits-all, and that the requirements in this space are quite unique with very high stakes. We are ambidextrous in bringing that all together."