Lyceum 2021 | Together Towards Tomorrow
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is increasingly referenced in corporate boardrooms and the financial sector, and verification of ESG metrics is a new condition of project financing.
For resource development projects, remotely acquired data is increasingly important for evaluating social and environmental risk. Meanwhile changes to orebody valuation requirements bears heavily on overall valuation and financing conditionality. Bruce will discuss why we need to make the leap from remote landscape monitoring and geospatial modelling to social proxy modelling.
(gentle suspenseful music)
<v ->Hello everybody.</v>
My name’s Bruce Harvey.
I’m coming into you from Melbourne in Australia.
I’m going to give you a presentation here
entitled “trust, but verify”;
there are the words in Russian.
I’m not going to attempt to pronounce them in Russian.
It’s a famous and ancient piece of Russian wisdom.
The subtitle for this is,
remote sensing for ESG assurance
and resource sector financing.
And it’ll become obvious what I’m talking about,
even though I’m skimming over the subject material
in the next 20 minutes.
This is what I will talk about;
the emergence of ESG
as a critical factor in the business environment,
why ESG is particularly important for the resources sector,
how ESG is currently dealt with in the resources sector,
how we ESG needs to be better managed,
why remote sensing,
I believe has an important role to play in this
particularly in the verification of performance,
and lastly I’ll finish with an example
of remote social evaluation and verification,
if you like “trust, but verify”.
Well look, ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance
has emerged in the last two or three years
as the financial and corporate institutional response
to sustainable development.
Sustainable development has been part of our life
The zeitgeists for 25, if not 30 years,
it emerged in the 1990s.
And there’s no better definition than the original one
that came from the Brundtland Report;
“development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs.”
It certainly has become a major socio-political
and socioeconomic driver,
and it encompasses all ideas of environment,
social and governance performance.
When it first started,
it had an emphasis on environmental performance,
now it’s across the full portfolio.
And ESG has been the corporate and finance sectors
response to this in the last two or three years,
wanting to actually bring in the idea
of quantifiable performance metrics
to manage investor and operational risk.
So on that basis,
ESG performance needs to involve everybody at a work site.
We all need to be aware of the effects
of our work activities and behavior on others
and undertaking our professional work
with accountability for good health,
safety, environment and social outcomes.
Now, why is ESG particularly important
for the resources sector?
Well, here are some startling images,
mostly from Africa in this case,
but these occur all over the world.
And we know that 30% or thereabouts
of resource sector projects are suspended
or never proceed because of some form of social conflict.
We know this intuitively;
however, there’s more and more data
that supports this notion.
And there’s a very interesting paper there
from some years ago
and more have emerged in the meantime.
So we know that our projects did not proceed,
particularly because of social conflict,
which is often triggered by some form
of environmental impact.
So my assertion to you
and I am a geologist originally by the way,
and I presume I’m still a geologist,
that the oil body is not actually the asset.
Many of us geologists are inclined to believe
that the oil body in the ground is a real asset.
However, these data here
from Ernst and Young over the last three years, affirm
that licensed to operate as they call it,
is the number one risk for mining
and metals companies for three years in a row.
So I put it to you
that the exclusive right to explore,
evaluate, develop, mine and market
a mineral resource is the asset.
The rock and the ground is a rock on the ground
and if it remains in the ground, it’s not an asset.
So again, the oil body is not the asset.
The ability to develop it is the asset.
Very complicated slide, it’s an exhibit.
I don’t expect anybody to be able
to unravel the slide on the screen.
There’s reference to the paper it comes from,
if anyone is particularly interested,
you can come back later and download that
from the web and read it for yourself.
Essentially what it’s showing,
this is the first of a number of analysis
that are starting to emerge
in what might be called ESG related risks categories
across all bodies.
So on the left-hand column,
a list of the top 40 undeveloped copper deposits
by tonnage in the world.
Some of them are just starting to be developed.
So an enormous inventory there,
enormous latent inventory of copper in the ground.
And then across the top of a number of
ESG related risk categories
and some technical ones as well such as grade,
that the authors of this report
have managed to find from global desktop research.
Now we might disagree with the categories
that they’ve picked up on.
That’s not the point I’m trying to make here.
The point I’m trying to make is it’s now possible
to do a complete matrix of risk heat exposure
across a number of ESG related risk categories
against a list of oil bodies.
This work will continue to become very refined.
It’s a pity that this slide is in black and white;
I don’t have a copy of it.
It’s color coded, but essentially the darker the color,
the higher the risk.
And clearly, if you’ve got a row with a lot of dark colors,
the evaluated risk assessment would be that,
that oil body is got very little chance of being evaluated.
So that’s why this is particularly important
to individual asset owners and operators
who are wanting to develop projects.
Now, how has it currently dealt with
in the resource sector evaluations?
Well, here’s a map of showing the various mineral codes
that are around the world.
Some of you will be familiar with some of them
by attempt to coordinate and come together
and increasingly collaborate through
the Committee for Mineral Reserves
International Reporting Standards.
And I just want to mention a couple of them in detail.
So the Australian code very well known as JORC,
the Joint Ore Reserves Committee Code,
has some reference to ESG related modifying factors.
There they are.
I don’t expect you to be able to read them,
but the point is,
two very minimal references
to environmental modifying factors
and social modifying factors.
Modifying factors as the language that’s been around
for some time relating to these codes.
It has to be said that the South Africans
have done much better.
So the South African codes for ESG,
are actually more voluminous,
and somewhat more detailed than well,
actually way more detailed than any of the other codes.
You can find them at that web link if you want.
There are other codes;
here’s the Russian minerals evaluation code.
I can’t read Russian.
So I don’t know whether there’s any reference in there
to modifying factors,
but I’m just giving you a taste
of what some of the codes are.
So here’s a slide.
There’s the reference to it
if anyone wants to pull down the paper
that shows that ESG related modifying factors
as portrayed in this diagram on the Y axis.
So this is an attempt to demonstrate in three dimensions
that there’s geological knowledge,
which on the bottom axis there,
and then in the depth axis project feasibility
taking into account other technical and commercial factors,
and then in the vertical axis an attempt
to indicate that ESG related modifying factors
are now a critical third dimension
in the categorization of risk and likelihood
for unrestricted development of an oil body.
Now it’s more and more important all the time now,
not so much because of regulatory requirements,
but because of emerging financing requirements.
Some of you may be familiar with the IFC,
the World Bank IFC Performance Standards,
increasingly commercial banks
have signed up to what is called
the Equator Bank Principles.
And I think there are something like
a thousand commercial banks in the world now,
which are signatories
and are looking particularly since July, 2020
with what’s called Equator Principal’s 4
at a very high degree and more rigorous evaluation
of ESG related factors
before they will provide finance to projects.
Now, there are just some examples there
of the type of banks we’re talking about.
So I think you’ll all find some banks there
from your own place of work,
your own continent, your own country.
This is a right across the board now,
including in China.
Now I just want to very quickly point out
that when it comes to social performance,
and that’s what I’m particularly wanting
to highlight in this presentation,
I work in the area of social performance.
There are a whole bunch of quite technical matters
that require competence
in the way that they are evaluated and managed.
Here’s a list of some of them,
probably about half of them.
We’re not going to go into them,
but I have actually circled
resettlement and population movement there
because I’m going to come back to that later
as an example,
an on-ground example of how that needs to be managed.
The points there that are in green by the way;
what you would call, enterprise management system factors.
So they are common across environmental performance,
social performance, governance,
and general management.
So they are EMS type requirements.
The others are quite explicit to social performance.
So just to point out again,
we’ll come back to discuss resettlement
later in this presentation.
Now, just to step aside for a moment,
and say when it comes to assurance
and audit or review, if you like
of any effects for that matter,
you need to have a set of auditors or observers.
And in particularly in the social area,
there’s a prevalence and a real exposure
to what is called,
even in physics, the observer effect.
Now, the observer effect is that
in the act of trying to measure something or observe it,
you actually necessarily alter the state
of what you’re attempting to measure.
So that even applies in quantum physics.
But it particularly applies in social science
for a number of well-known effects,
which are now well discussed by sociologists.
So for instance,
the Hawthorn effect,
people will modify their behavior
when they know they’re being observed.
Survey fatigue, is when people are so tired of being
frequently surveyed that they just express dissatisfaction
and start saying whatever they like.
So it’s particularly difficult to get reliable,
replicable data in the social science domain
because of this extreme observer effect with human beings
being active agents in their own destiny.
They have a tendency to tell the survey
what they think the surveyor wants to know
or what they themselves want to do
to influence the outcomes.
So that means that looking for a way
to objectively verify
survey data in the social domain
is wide open for experimentation and development.
And there’s quite a bit of work being done there
by international agencies and others in the space,
but I’m not sure much of it is being done
in the resource sector.
So I put it to you that remote sensing
has an important role to play in verification.
And here are some examples.
So for instance,
looking at the social domain, completely
the number of maintenance of buildings over time,
because we can recover satellite images from the past,
can be a proxy for family size and wealth change.
So you can imagine
it’s possible to look at the roofing materials
and see how they’re changing over time.
The patterns of yearly and seasonal use of tracks
and arable lands can be indicators of shifting land use
and the changes in nighttime light patterns, for instance,
as a proxy for electricity availability and uptake.
And there was a nice report back there in 2015
by the World Bank that covered that in Africa.
And then this one at the bottom I have highlighted again,
because I’m going to come back to that as an example.
The number of maintained household compounds and structures
as a measure of in migration and out migration.
Now the movement of peoples
and in migration and out migration
as a result of resource development
can have a major effect
on the societal stability
around that resource operation.
If there are many thousands,
in some cases, tens of thousands
of people coming in from elsewhere
looking for opportunity,
that can cause severe socio-political
and other conflictual situations.
And so we want to be able to monitor that.
And in some respects,
we want to be able to manage it to the best extent we can.
Knowing what’s going on,
can be a very important part.
What gets measured, gets managed.
Now here’s an example,
and thank you Seequent for providing this example
that I could use from the Emilia Romagna
region in Italy.
So, technology is already being used
as a way of enabling geo-scientists to better engage with
and communicate and discuss
development affects involving for instance,
in this case subsurface environment
with members of the public.
So this sort of thing is pretty standard practice
at the moment.
But what I want to talk about and suggest
is that it can be extended now with the new technologies.
Here is an example that I want to bring to your attention.
This is an example that I was involved in
about four years ago.
It’s from Mongolia,
from a little town called Khanbogd
in the province of Omnugovi
in the southern part of Mongolia.
There it is out in the Gobi Desert,
where it’s associated with the new…
Well, it’s always been there of course,
but 40 kilometers away to the west
is the giant new Oyu Tolgoi copper deposit,
and many of the employees and others now live in this town.
And so there’s now a very close relationship
between the mine and this the nearest town.
Now what happened is we were managing closely all along
the number of people who were turning up
to live in Khanbogd,
and we didn’t want to have an in migration effect
where suddenly instead of two and a half thousand people
who were living there in 2004,
we ended up within three or four years with 20,000,
’cause clearly that would be a unstable
and in fact, unsustainable,
so that there was careful management of this over time
and the lenders and the base lender for this, by the way,
was the International Finance Corporation,
and many other lending institutions
joined the lending consortium,
we’re very keen to keep an eye on
and expected the proponent
to actually manage effectively risks of in migration,
which was done pretty successfully.
And then suddenly in 2014/16,
there was an apparent surge
in the in migration based on registration numbers
in the local government registration office.
And that came to the attention of the lender auditors
and they asked for an explanation.
Now we believe that
the reason was that what might be called ghost registration.
So people were registering,
but not actually moving and living there,
and the government was willing to allow those registrations,
but people were wanting to register because
then they could become available,
they could become potentially employable
as people who were local employees.
So we believe that they were ghost registrations,
but we needed to actually provide some other proof,
and it’s not actually that easy.
So it occurred to us that
we could actually go back and look at satellite imagery,
whatever we could achieve,
whatever we could retrospectively recover
during that period
and we could do a count
of various residential buildings and the like.
Now, many Mongolians in the steppe
and out in the Gobi Desert live in gers,
which Russians call yurts by the way,
but these round felt tents
that have been around for a long time.
So they can erect these and take them down
within an hour or two.
So everyone would have these
and when they move into a place even temporarily,
they’ll put up some gers.
So from overhead of course,
that’s a very distinctive round shape,
and we figured that we would
be able to count the number of gers
in as many retrospective satellite images
as we could put our hands on; and indeed we could.
Now, you probably can’t see these very well,
but these are rendered images
that some very good Mongolian consultants
put together for us of the village.
Now you can see there in 2004,
the soum center was really quite small.
You can make out some roads,
you can make out public buildings
and you can’t actually see the gers
in the way that this image is portrayed,
but you can count them on the satellite image.
Now, the next satellite image available,
unfortunately was some eight years later, 2012,
but you can see the town,
the soum center has increased
quite substantially in size.
Now, if we go forward to the next two satellite images
and do the same,
so render the satellite images
into these countable portrayals,
it’s growing again substantially by 2014
and by 2016, not much.
So between the years of 2014 and 2016,
not much growth in the town,
you can see that with the naked eye
and you can intuit that that is the case.
However, using algorithms and manual counting
and manual identification,
we were able to actually count the number of gers.
We could count other things as well,
but gers were the definitive feature
that we were trying to to count.
Now between 2004 and 2012,
there was a considerable increase
in the number of gers
that went up in the town.
And many it would have come down and going up again
and come down and going up again.
So that’s a mean count.
Now that was a period of managed expansion
and managed immigration.
So there were no issues about that.
We manage that all the way through,
and we were able to correlate it with the registrations
on the official residency registration.
Now, the period of concern
based on the surge of registrations
was 2014 to 2016.
And as you can see,
there was actually no dramatic increase
in the number of gers that went up
in the soum center during that period.
So we were able to take this back
to the lenders and to the mine management actually,
and provide comfort and verification
that the apparent surge was not real.
It was a factor of ghost registrations.
So I did very very nice, tidy objective verification
that there was no actual in migration surge.
So I finished by repeating
the Russian maxim, “trust, but verify”;
and I put it to you that this kind of work
is wide open for development in the resource sector;
social performance verification with objective means,
and that some of the people in this…
Some of you in the audience
should see this as a business opportunity that’s wide open.
Now, I’m going to leave it at that.
Hopefully that’s sparked a few thoughts with people,
and it’s been my pleasure to present to you.
(gentle suspenseful music)