Sustainability concerns

SOME straight talking ahead of next month’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg has highlighted the concerns of some in the State’s mining community.

Croesus Mining and De Grey Mining chairman Ron Manners maintained this week that the global sustainability push had a potential downside in limiting the effectiveness and profitability of smaller companies.

Mr Manners’ comments followed an Australian Institute of Company Directors presentation by RMIT University global sustainability executive director Tricia Caswell on the challenge global sustainability presented business.

Promoting an open-minded approach, Ms Caswell said the challenges produced opportunities for industries and businesses trying to be competitive while often operating in very conflicting environments, and re-

quired a lot of will, in addition to interest.

There would be turmoil, she con-ceded, as changes needed to be made quickly, according to Worldwatch Institute ‘State of the World 2002’ and OECD Enviro Outlook to 2020 reports.

Many were underexposed to the issues at stake, she said, predicting the nations that would be ready – most likely Japan, Germany and the United States - would “make megabucks”.

But Mr Manners said the worldwide mining industry input on sustainability in the lead-up to Johannesburg was viewed by some as just “the larger companies forming a minerals cartel to restrict new entry by smaller companies wanting to become producers”.

Mr Manners added that anything that restricted new entry to exploration and mining was not necessarily good for Western Australia.

Association of Mining & Exploration Companies chief executive officer George Savell said the organisation commended the sustainability process, in that it was taking account of both economic and significant community issues, but considered it was still at a high philosophical and ethical level.

Globalisation was producing a foment of change and no one really had a good handle on where it could lead, he said, although Johannesburg would help advance and focus this.

AMEC would take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach regarding a formal sustainability outcome, he said.

“We’re not yet down at the meat and potatoes, to the state of reality, but we’ll need a broadly-based decision for it to work among all the principles and statutes that need to be observed locally.”

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