Source: Gold Hub
By: Peter Sinclair
Date: November 25, 2022
The ESG revolution is well underway, but investors and companies continue to grapple with how to effectively measure the ‘S’ in ESG. We know that gold mining takes place all over the world, often in remote and poorly connected locations. The potential for gold mining to have an impact on social and economic development, especially in these areas, is enormous.
Mining companies invest in local employees and businesses, support host communities and work with governments and civil society to improve transparency and the governance of natural resources. All of this can have outsized impact on local people who otherwise may have limited opportunities. But how can we capture and measure these impacts in a meaningful way, so we can share them with our stakeholders, both local and global?
Back in 2020, the World Gold Council released a series of case studies which provided qualitative evidence of how our Members contribute to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In 2021, we decided to drill down further and quantify this contribution in a report titled ‘Social and Economic Contribution of Gold Mining’. This report looked at direct payments made by mining companies in their countries of operations as a proxy for how much value is created and retained in that country.
We collected Member data on the direct in-country payments in four main categories: payments to governments (including taxes and royalties), to employees (wages and benefits), local suppliers and contractors and payments to communities. The premise is that these payments circulate in the local economy, further generating economic prosperity and wealth for local workers, business owners and communities in general.
This year we decided to repeat the core data collection exercise and produce a simplified summary report (see here). This briefing note aims to help quantify the size of the direct financial contribution of our 31 member companies in 2021. 2021 data showed that our members contributed a total of $57.5bn to local economies in which they operate. This comprised $35.4bn of payments to in country suppliers, $11.7bn in employee payments, $10.0bn in tax payments to governments and $450m in payments to communities.
Our members operate in 37 countries and in 2021 employed close to 250,000 direct employees and roughly 140,000 contractors. And based on last year’s research, we know that each and every direct job the gold mining industry supports six more indirect jobs in the supply chain. The 390,000 total direct jobs therefore translate into more than 2.7m jobs including downstream suppliers. Taking this a step further, we also know from our research that the employment multiplier changes from six to ten if induced jobs – those created outside the immediate supply chain but as a result of the increased economic activity associated with gold mining – are included. That makes the total close to 4m jobs. In countries where unemployment rates are astronomical, this contribution is massive.
It is also worth noting that jobs are not expatriates, they are largely held by locals. Our data show that 95% of those employed by WGC Member companies are nationals of the country in which the operation is based. This high ratio is a result of decades of training and skills transfer, reducing the need for expatriates and putting very capable local people into senior management positions.
There is still more to do when it comes to gender diversity with only 16% of total employees being women. At least, it is encouraging to see more female role models taking a seat at the boardroom table, with 27% female representation, up considerably from previous years.
While the lifespan of a mine is finite, many of the benefits accrued during the lifecycle of the mine remain afterwards. These can include infrastructure such as power and water supply, a skilled local workforce and a more active business community. So, while demonstrating the ‘S’ in ESG quantitatively will always be challenging, we know from our member data that gold mining can have a huge positive impact on the social development of the communities and countries in which it takes place.