Assessing environmental, safety and social concerns at a mining site in South Africa
Citigroup, the American multinational investment bank, approached RSK GCS, an RSK company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to undertake an in-depth environmental and social due diligence investigation into a mining operation in West Africa. RSK GCS’s remit was to highlight any areas of risk and propose suitable mitigation measures. Our tasks were directly linked to an iron-ore mining and integrated beneficiation, palletisation and direct-reduced-iron manufacturing complex and the associated lender standards, to help provide assurance that risks and opportunities were being identified and managed accordingly.
Once contracted, we established several teams from varying disciplines to undertake this large-scale due diligence assignment. Our work scope aimed to investigate the compliance of the mining operations’ existing and future activities to the relevant international standards for environmental and social sustainability, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) performance standards. Our in-country teams investigated a variety of material risks and the efficacy of the proposed and implemented mitigation of potential impacts.
The project’s remit stressed the need to help the various funders to understand the level of risk and to assist with managing the risk linked to the funding arrangement for the mine development. RSK always tries to promote and recruit local talent, so the personnel in the RSK GCS teams was handpicked from engineers and environmental specialists from South Africa. Additional information on mining safety and social context helped to provide the client with the necessary data to inform the investment decision in conjunction with local content from additional partners in the region.
The broad scope of our assignment included detailed environmental and social due diligence investigations, a review of management systems and identifying safe and equitable labour and working conditions. Our team helped to identify key impact areas for pollution prevention; community health, safety and security; and cultural heritage and the cumulative impacts, associated land acquisition and involuntary resettlement issues of indigenous peoples.