Public Sustainability Reporting 2015/16

By on November 30, 2016

Dr Elizabeth Gibson, General Manager CMPA outlines Public Sustainability Reporting in the extractive industry.

Public Sustainability Reporting is a new impost on the extractive industry.  The following is an extract from the Earth Resources Regulator’s Guideline “Public Sustainability Reporting for 2015/16” released on 3 November 2016.

What is earth resources public reporting, and how does it work?

On 22 September 2015 amendments to the MRSDA came into effect which enable the Minister for Resources (the Minister) to require mining licensees and extractive industry work authority (EIWA) holders (authority holders) to report publicly on work undertaken at earth resources sites.

The amendments introduce new provisions in sections 26 (licensees) and 77J (EIWA holders) of the MRSDA. The amending provisions aim to improve public transparency in the earth resources sector, by ensuring communities are well informed on significant mining and quarrying activities.

Sections 26 and 77J (the sections) involve a two-step process, whereby authority holders are consulted individually about public reporting of work under their licence/EIWA, and then notified if they are required to undertake public reporting.

Public reporting notices issued under the sections will set out:

  • the work to be reported upon;
  • the manner in which the report must be submitted to the Minister;
  • the manner in which the report must be published; and
  • the dates by which the report must be submitted and published.

How have sites been selected for public reporting?

The new sections provide broad discretion to the Minister to require public reporting from any authority holder under the MRSDA.  Authority holders have been selected for public reporting on activities in the 2015/2016 year under a risk-based assessment process, taking into account relative risks arising from work at sites across Victoria including risks to the environment, public safety and infrastructure, and any complaints received from the public.

Under the process established by the MRSDA, sites selected for public reporting will be given a Notice of the intention to require reporting, and given the opportunity to comment/give feedback prior to the formal requirement being issued.

The CMPA has made submissions to the Earth Resources Regulator (ERR) concerning the Public Sustainability Reporting which have largely been ignored.

The following are general comments supplied by CMPA to ERR in May 2016 on their draft Public Sustainability Reporting Guideline:

  • Producing the Report will place an unnecessary burden on the extractives industry especially small to medium sized businesses.
  • The Report duplicates much information which is already made publically available.
  • The criteria have not yet been set for the identification of extractive industries for reporting other than the use of “significant mining and quarrying activities”. This is seen as a deficiency in the process.
  • On viewing the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) databases only 140 reports in the world were listed for mining in 2014 suggesting that adoption of aspects of the GRI reporting process by Earth Resources Regulation is an oppressive burden on industry.
  • There is no evidence of how community perception will be altered.

“A (GRI) G4 (report) does nothing to improve the experience for readers. There’s a worry that G4 will make reports less engaging as it pushes reporters to satisfy a tiny band of expert stakeholders – and a lurking sense nobody is reading anyway.”, The Guardian 2013. 

 

  • The Report should be aligned with VCAT rulings and local planning authorities’ expectations.
  • A “Sustainability Report” covers the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by its everyday activities according to the GRI website. Clearly, the title of the Report should be changed to better reflect its intended purpose.
  • The costs of GRI reporting may be in the order of ~ $150,000.

page-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary

Whilst CMPA understands the intention behind the requirement for public reporting, it is yet another impost on the extractive industry which is already struggling under the costs of ever increasing and overwhelming legislative requirements of which many have been introduced due to mine and coal mine issues.  The selection of sites is based on the relative impact on environment/amenity, public/heritage infrastructure, public health and safety and reputation.  This needs to be based on quantitative information with the criteria discussed with industry representatives first.  Small to medium sized quarries will become economically unviable if identified as requiring to publically report.

CMPA is of the firm view the extractive industry remain separate from mines and coal mines in regulation due to the extractive industry’s different and lower risk profile.

The following is the response from ERR which ignores much of CMPA’s submission:

“Key themes from the submissions were about ensuring there was no duplication in reporting and streamlining the reporting process, providing information in a clear, accessible and easily understood way, and that the guidelines should define the minimum requirements for reporting, rather than prescribing a template.  Amendments were made to the reporting requirements and the guidelines to address these matters.”

On 3 November 2016, a number of quarries were issued with a letter requiring Public Sustainability Reporting for 2015/16.  The cost to deliver a report is unsustainable for small to medium family run businesses with no evidence of need and no justification of the cost.  Past and current Governments are effectively squeezing out family run businesses in favour of the multi-nationals.  A collapse of family businesses will see a profound adjustment upwards of the cost of construction materials.

The CMPA is considering further action to assist Members.

About Gavin Moreira

Sponsored Ads