13th January 2023

North America

Holistic Approach to ESG Will Make Lasting Impact, Says Barrick

The challenges of fighting poverty, climate change and nature loss are inextricably linked and, in order to make a lasting, positive impact on any of them, they need to be tackled together through a holistic and integrated approach to ESG. That is why at Barrick we call it sustainability, says Mark Bristow, president and chief executive of Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:GOLD) (TSX:ABX). With a sizeable portion of Barrick’s 18-country portfolio of gold and copper mines and projects located in the poorer regions of the world, Bristow says the greatest benefit a mining company could bestow on a host nation and its communities is to effect positive and sustainable socio[1]economic change through job creation, infrastructure development, education and skills transfer, economic opportunity generation and quality of life improvements. “The E in ESG has received much of the attention lately but I would argue that its social dimension is as, if not more, important and needs to be developed through holistic and integrated sustainability management. In its current form, ESG is skewed towards environmental concerns at the expense of social factors. The upliftment and development of societies and countries that have been left behind by the developed world is a major challenge that needs urgent attention. Resilience to climate change is not only a requirement for businesses, but is also a necessity for communities and host countries. I am particularly concerned that the issue of poverty – perhaps the greatest problem facing mankind – is not more prominently on the agenda. Poverty is particularly a big issue in Africa, which hosts two of our Tier One* mines and many of our prospects. Africa holds 17% of the world’s population but, due to its developmental neglect, accounts for only 3% to 4% of global carbon emissions. Eradicating poverty will require a global, not just a local response,” Bristow says. Bristow says a good business also has to be a good citizen, particularly in emerging countries where mining companies have a moral obligation as well as a commercial motivation to help develop economies and uplift people. “If the gold mining industry is to survive in the changing world, it must recognize and acknowledge its duty to all stakeholders, and make sure that they benefit fairly from the value it creates,” he says. Barrick’s philosophy of partnership with its stakeholders is embedded throughout the business and its effectiveness was a key factor in Barrick’s successful Covid-19 containment programs, which buffered the impact of the pandemic on its business and people, and also enabled it to provide much-needed support to its host countries. The partnership strategy is also credited with resolving long-standing legacy issues, notably the resurrection of the North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines through a formal partnership with the Tanzanian government. “This is not to say we underestimate the gravity of the environmental challenge. Barrick has a clear climate resilience and action strategy, including a roadmap for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, that is based on climate science and is demonstratable, and this is constantly reviewed in the light of technological advances. Identification and realization of the opportunities these offer enabled us to demonstrate a 2030 emissions reduction target roadmap of 30%, against a 2018 baseline, while maintaining a steady ounce profile. Our ultimate aim is to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” he says. Barrick’s roadmap includes energy efficiency measures across the group and ambitious plans to add a world[1]class copper component to its Tier One gold portfolio. It delivers more solar power in Mali and Nevada and the conversion of a power station in Nevada from coal to natural gas. Adding to this are the achievements to date with new battery technology installed to augment its hydropower stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the conversion of its power station in the Dominican Republic from heavy fuel oil to cleaner energy sources. As Barrick implements its climate resilience strategy in tandem with socio-economic development, it also introduced a new biodiversity standard in 2022 that aligns with its sustainability approach. The biodiversity standard sets out the principles for operations to partner with conservation areas and focus on key biodiversity features and measurable conservation actions. * A Tier One Gold Asset is an asset with a reserve potential to deliver a minimum 10-year life, annual production of at least 500,000 ounces of gold and total cash costs per ounce over the mine life that are in the lower half of the industry cost curve