Producers of thermal and metallurgical coal need to make the right choices when it comes to issues such as dust control — something that is very important to equipment suppliers such as Telestack, seen here loading coal in Australia.
There is a growing desire to know how products are made, where the components come from, what is the carbon footprint of the product you hold in your hands. So far, this has translated into efforts around the responsible sourcing of mined products and in consumer good companies claiming that their products were responsibly sourced through traceability, supplier codes of conduct or going through the Bettercoal assessment.
This high-level accountability is no longer enough in today’s world. And as an industry, the whole supply chain needs to work together to not only ensure responsible conduct across the whole value chain, but also to increase transparency.
The challenge with the coal supply chain is threefold:
* consumers do not want to know that their product required coal for its production;
* companies that use coal either as a source for power generation, as part of the production process or any other use do not want their consumers to be aware that coal is part of this;
* there is a belief anchored in most of the West that coal is a sunset commodity and that we do not need to focus on its supply chain and should instead concentrate on other minerals, like cobalt, lithium, gold or diamonds.
Nevertheless, coal is set to remain an important part of our societies for the short to medium term future as a source of electricity, as a key component for over 75% of steel manufactured today and for the production of cement, which requires an average of 200 kilos of coal per tonne.
Producers of thermal and metallurgical coal need to demonstrate that their operations meet international best practice on ESG performance; railroads and port infrastructure and operations need to meet the same standards; the shipping and handling of coal must also demonstrate that it respects these standards; traders need to prove their commitment to safeguarding environmental and social rights in their purchasing of coal. And finally, end users — all end users — need to be able to demonstrate that their purchasing of coal is responsible.
Bettercoal is currently the only organization which measures the ESG performance of coal sites throughout the world with over 20 mining companies (more than 35 sites). As a supply chain initiative, Bettercoal’s work to date has focused on independently assessing the performance of coal mining companies at the mine-site level in order to assure our members that the coal they were purchasing or intending to purchase came from mines committed to continuously improving their operations on environmental, social and governance issues.
Through our in-depth assessment process, Members of our organization can truly monitor the ESG performance of the companies they are sourcing coal from. Bettercoal publishes high-level results of the site-assessments against the ten principles of the Bettercoal Code, and Bettercoal Members provide data on the volumes of coal they purchase from Bettercoal assessed suppliers.
By Anne-Claire Howard, Executive Director, Bettercoal, UK