Top gold sector investor demands more action on carbon emissions

11th December 2019 By: Reuters

LONDON – South Africa's biggest money manager has written to 22 gold mining companies asking them to disclose data on the emissions they cause, adding to pressure on the resources sector to tackle climate change.

Investec Asset Management, which manages around £111-billion, including over $1-billion in gold assets, wants companies to disclose emissions data across their supply chain, a letter to one of the companies seen by Reuters showed.

Investec portfolio manager George Cheveley confirmed the request, saying Investec had asked for data on gold because it had a "significant interest" in the companies.

"Also, we felt that the sector had been slow to publish data and there was a risk some companies believed scope three (emissions from the use of products) was not so relevant to gold," he said.

He declined to name the companies involved.

With UN talks continuing in Madrid this week to bolster the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb global warming, Cheveley said he wanted a dialogue to increase gold companies' responsibility over their products beyond the mine gate.

Historically, the gold sector has been plagued by concerns about the use of gold in fuelling conflict and laundering money.

Scrutinising emissions can be a broader way to improve governance, transparency and reduce risk, responsible investment campaigners say.

"Pretty much all sectors will have to get to grips with the implications regarding scope 3," said John Mulligan, a director responsible for market relations, at industry body the World Gold Council.

Scope three emissions caused by the use of oil in transport and iron-ore and coking coal to make steel are far greater than from the gold sector, although those industries say their products are vital to society.

The extractive industry began acknowledging responsibility for pollution beyond scope one and two emissions, which are generated by their own operations, when Royal Dutch Shell said it would set scope three targets a year ago.

In mining, the biggest of the listed companies, BHP, in July said it would set scope three goals. Vale followed suit this month.

World No. 2 iron-ore producer Rio Tinto has yet to announce scope three commitments, saying in March it was "primarily the emissions of our customers, mainly steelmakers in China, over which we have very limited control".

A Rio spokesperson said its position had not changed, but it is working on technology to reduce emissions.