In this report, a material sustainability topic is one that reflects our company’s most significant economic, environmental and social impacts, or one that could substantively influence the assessments and decisions of our stakeholders, in accordance with guidance from the Global Reporting Initiative.
The content of our annual sustainability reporting is determined through a detailed materiality assessment, which is a process for identifying and evaluating the sustainability topics that mattered most to our business and to our communities of interest during the previous year and for the near-term future.
Our annual process for determining material sustainability topics follows a three-year cycle and involves three steps: identification, prioritization and validation. The first year involves intensive consultation and research to identify a full list of topics that is analyzed by internal experts and external stakeholders and validated by our senior management team. Sustainability topics in the mining industry are typically consistent year over year, given the long-term nature of operations. As such, the second and third years build on the results from the first year and the assessment is updated to reflect emerging issues.
In 2019, we built on the comprehensive materiality assessment conducted in 2017. During the identification phase, we conducted research on trends in our industry and evaluated internal strategy documents, including the five-year plans for each business unit, information compiled as part of the update of our sustainability strategy and goals outlined on pages 7 and 8. We also took existing information from our 2017 comprehensive assessment, which mapped our impacts and the boundary of our material topics across the value chain. In this phase, we identified a total of 24 topics for review and prioritization.
During the prioritization phase, we conducted internal and external engagement aimed at further understanding the current state of sustainability within the company and our outlook for sustainability. During this process, a range of topics were identified as most significant in terms of risks and opportunities. In this phase, 14 of the 24 sustainability topics were prioritized as potentially meeting our threshold for reporting.
During the validation phase, our leadership teams at each operating site, our internal sustainability advisory group, the senior management team and the Safety & Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors reviewed and validated the results of the materiality assessment.
The 24 sustainability topics that were identified are outlined in the Materiality Matrix in Figure 2. Of these 24 topics, the 14 topics that were prioritized as meeting our threshold for reporting include:
- Health and Safety
- Water Stewardship
- Relationships with Indigenous Peoples
- Relationships with Communities
- Tailings Management
- Climate Change and Energy Use
- Diversity and Employee Relations
- Air Quality
- Responsible Production and Waste Management
- Supply Chain Management
- Environmental Management
- Biodiversity and Reclamation
- Human Rights
- Business Ethics
We recognize that many of our material topics are interrelated; for example, a topic such as Human Rights has intersections with several other sustainability topics, such as Health and Safety, Water Stewardship and Relationships with Indigenous Peoples.