Geneve-based Covalence ranks these mining companies for their 2007 performance. Best EthicalQuote Score and Best EthicalQuote Progress are given by confronting positive and negative news. Best Reported Performance is calculated by quantifying positive news only – it shows how companies report on their ethical performance without considering criticisms and demands.
Rank Best Ethical Best Ethical Best Reported
Quote Score Quote Progress Performance
1 Alcoa Alcan Alcan
2 Alcan Alcoa Anglo American
3 Anglo American Anglo American Rio Tinto
4 Rio Tinto Impala Platsinum Alcoa
5 BHP Billiton Rio Tinto Xstrata
6 Gold Fields BHP Billiton Barrick Gold
7 POSCO Harmony Gold BHP Billiton
8 Xstrata CVRD POSCO
9 Impala Platinum Bariick Gold Impala Platinum
10 Nippon Steel Gold Fields Newmont
These rankings are interesting to see in the light of a recent speech in San Francisco by Cynthia Caroll CEO of Anglo American. In part the report on her speech notes:
Carroll raised concerns about the commitment of Chinese, Russian, and Indian companies to higher standards of environmental excellence and corporate responsibility. ‘Since the emergence of these new competitors is inevitable, I believe that the right response must be engagement and cooperation rather than confrontation in areas like safety, climate change and sustainable development.”
“A lot of progress has been made in evolving new models which have improved our contribution to sustainable development,” Carroll asserted. “We need, however, to spread good practice more widely and, as a sector, significantly to improve our communication and engagement with governments and communities.”
‘We have not always been thoughtful enough about the social and political dynamics created by our industry or engaged pro-actively with governments to seek sustainable and mutually beneficial outcomes.” Carroll said. “The emergence of new sources of competition could call into question some of the progress that has been made in raising standards. But, many of these new players will soon become aware, if they are not already, that resources businesses must contribute to sustainable development if we are to continue to have access to resources.”
I am interested in her comments about the potential impact of “new sources of competition that could call in question .. progress …. made in raising standards.” She goes so far as to label “the relevance of corporate responsibility in an era of resource nationalism” one of the four key challenges to the mining sector.
She may be right that “engagement and cooperation” are the right way to deal with “new sources of competition.” Maybe the big western-based mining companies should just take these new competitors over and be done with it. That may not be possible in all cases.
Thus the question arises: is it Anglo American’s role & responsibility to “engage” an unethical mining company tearing minerals out of Peru’s rain forests, but making much bigger profits than Anglo, constrained as they are by the cost of “social responsibility?” Or is this the responsibilty of the Peruvian government, which, if it were wise and uncorrupted, would level the playing field with regulations so that an inevitable outcome of competition is that Anglo is the miner and our socially irresponsible mining company is relegated to irrelevance.
What is not reported in MineWeb is the response of the audience of NGOs and sustainability activists to Carrol’s talk. We are not told what these activist think of her view that forcing good companies to act when governments should, but fail to, simply opens the door for swallywags—or as Robert Reich characterizes it, companies that simply obey the inadequate laws. And go on to make healthy profits and attract investors.