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Charlotte de Koker, associate director for KPMG in South Africa, explains why the mining industry must divert from the traditional mindset in order to make progress on ESG aspirations

Charlotte de koker kpmg mining esgCharlotte de Koker is the associate director for KPMG in South Africa. (Image source: KPMG)

As made clear by KPMG across its platforms, the mining industry is grappling with a host of challenges many of which are being spurred by regulatory changes and geopolitical risks. 

Now, for many organisations within the sector, environmental and social concerns have become the pre-eminent priorities in response to stakeholder demands, and this is calling for increasing agility and flexibility from mining organisations operating on the continent.

KPMG, a company which specialises in audit, tax and advisory services, is on a mission to support the industry in their ESG challenges with specialists to help reduce costs, integrate digital tools and technologies, manage asset portfolios and assess risks. 

“Sustainability – or ESG as we now call it – looked very different back when I started in 2012 and I have been privileged to see the growth of it in this time. The African appetite in regards to environment is there and they are very much looking for green financing although, it must be said, the knowledge is more advanced in southern Africa despite some great developments in other areas – the ESG principles adopted by Nigerian Stock Exchange for example,” de Koker commented.

Indeed, it is not just regional variation as de Koker also expressed that different commodities are often at different levels in their relationship with ESG. Coal, for example, tends to be more advanced due to the earlier stakeholder pressure to adapt. 

“There is a lot of pressure to work on ESG, and peers becoming more advanced is spurring this as well – everyone will now say it is very important to them. However, organisations need to consider how it can fully integrate into their business models and strategy and how they are going to implement it – and this understanding is still at very varying levels of maturity and you can clearly see this if you read their ESG reports.”

This means, de Koker continued, that no ESG journey will be the same and there is, therefore, no cookie-cutter service. “Although the overarching theme of climate is the same, how you transition, what works for you, and the opportunities you see for your company will look different from your peer. So it is very important you don’t take a checklist, go through and then declare you are sustainable. It is really understanding your business and understanding the opportunities this can bring – because it is often seen as a negative or a risk but that is not the case.” 

Read the full interview with de Koker, including her thoughts on water waste in mining operations, in the May issue of African Review here.