Global trading platform seeks to make metals the "cornerstone of sustainability"
The metals and mining industries have provided the raw materials for today’s world – from the steel in our buildings, to the aluminium in our cars and planes, to the copper in our wiring.
The decarbonisation of economies, required by commitments made in the Paris Agreement, will significantly increase demand for metals – to make the batteries, wind turbines and solar panels to power our new economies and societies.
Metals are, therefore, an essential enabler of this sustainable future, and as global demand for metals increases, so will the expectations on sustainability standards. The industry has already made some important steps in this direction, but collectively we can, and should, do more to enable the industry to play an even greater role in our sustainable future.
We began our sustainability journey a few years ago when we started to forge new responsible sourcing requirements based on the OECD conflict minerals framework. Now we’ve embedded these requirements into our standards for ‘good delivery’ metal, we believe that it’s the right time to extend our work in this area to cover a broader range of sustainability considerations, building on the great progress the metals and mining industries have already made.
We believe we can collectively make metals the cornerstone of sustainability, and to do so we are adopting three core principles for action:
• Maintaining a broad scope
• Supporting voluntary disclosure of data
• Providing necessary tools for change.
The LME already offers transparency around, pricing of, and access to metals that contribute to sustainable production, the circular economy and electric vehicles. The next step is for us to build on that by increasing transparency – on a voluntary basis – and providing access to a broader range of products and services. Such proposals have been outlined in our discussion paper and we’d be keen to hear any feedback on these.
Of course, we recognise that there are diverging views across the metal industry as a whole on the routes we need to take to ensure a greener future and we acknowledge that the notion of a low-carbon economy is easier for some in our industry to embrace than it is for others. For example, there is some concern among colleagues in the aluminium industry that driving forward low-carbon aluminium initiatives is detrimental to those aluminium producers who simply don’t have access to low-carbon energy sources – and may therefore stigmatise non-low-carbon aluminium producers as ethically and/or financially less valuable.
We fully acknowledge that the journey we’ve embarked upon here is a complex one
However, it is precisely for this reason that we have chosen a route that provides voluntary transparency on low-carbon data – with no set thresholds – along with optional access to buy and sell such metal without introducing a new exchange-traded contract. So, even though nobody yet knows if low-carbon aluminium will demand a premium, our approach minimises the risk of a ‘two-tier’ pricing structure emerging, while still providing user choice for those looking to source sustainably produced aluminium.
We fully acknowledge that the journey we’ve embarked upon here is a complex one, and we intend to proceed with the utmost care in progressing any market change. But we must all accept that as the global demand for greater progress on sustainability gathers momentum, embracing our collective responsibility as an industry to drive meaningful change is vital. There is power in coalition and by working together, we can make metals the cornerstone of a sustainable future.
Mining Journal Stakeholder Engagement is a platform for conversation between the mining industry and key stakeholders. The programme is designed to help set a practical path to better engagement, reduced risk and better practices.
Aspermont Media Limited,
WeWork, 1 Poultry,
London, EC2R 8EJ.