GRI Sector Standard for Mining  Excludes Water as a Material Topic

Recently the draft proposal of the new GRI Sector Standard for Mining was released. This draft document has been approved by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) and is open for public comment until 30 April.


The current water reporting standard for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI303-2018: Water and Effluents) has been adopted by several mining companies. However, GRI303 is not specifically focused on the mining industry and sector reporting guidelines such as ICMM and WAF have some differences in some of the metric definitions.


GRI303 has become one of the most important water reporting frameworks globally, as for example in copper mining well over 40% of global copper production following its guidelines for disclosing water use data. As a consequence, Skarn has been closely following the development of the proposed GRI Sector Standard for Mining.


The new standard will apply not only to mining companies and operations, but also to their support activities, such as transportation and storage, and to the provision of specialised products and services, such as engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors.


The originally proposed Mining Sector Standard identifies a total of 25 likely material topics, but in an explanatory webinar on 2 March this number was reduced to a total of 17 material topics, with water excluded from the list of material topics. As a result, there is no requirement for asset-level reporting. Instead, an organisation may choose to disclose only aggregated global water use values (water withdrawals, wastewater discharges and water consumption).


The exclusion of water use reporting at asset level in the proposed GRI standard would explicitly define that water is not a material issue for the mining sector, for its investors, its social stakeholders and its local environment. This is a surprising conclusion given the growing global concern over water scarcity and the mining sector's high water usage and impact.


It is worth noting that other sector-specific reporting standards, such as the ICMM's Water Stewardship Framework and the WAF's Water Accounting Framework, include more detailed reporting requirements for water use, quality and management.


The exclusion of water from the list of material topics in the proposed GRI Sector Standard for Mining may be a missed opportunity to encourage greater transparency and accountability in the sector's water management practices. However, it is important to note that this is still a draft document and there is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback during the public comment period.



 Author: Raymond Philippe, General Manager, Skarn 



About us
About Us

Skarn Associates is the market leader in quantifying and benchmarking asset-level greenhouse gas emissions, energy intensity, and water use across the mining sector.

Latest bulletin
Share This
Recent News