Investec Offices in Sandton, Johannesburg. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/CHARLES GALLO
Investec Offices in Sandton, Johannesburg. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/CHARLES GALLO

SA’s biggest money manager has written to 22 gold mining companies asking them to disclose data on their emissions, adding to pressure on the resources sector to tackle climate change.

Investec Asset Management, which manages about £111bn (R2.16-trillion), including more than $1bn (R14.64bn) in gold assets, wants companies to disclose emissions data across their supply chain, a letter to one of the companies shows.

Investec portfolio manager George Cheveley confirmed the request, saying Investec had asked for data on gold because it had a “significant interest” in the companies.

“Also, we felt that the sector had been slow to publish data and there was a risk some companies believed scope 3 (emissions from the use of products) was not so relevant to gold,” he said. He declined to name the companies involved.

With UN talks continuing in Madrid this week to bolster the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb global warming, Cheveley said he wanted a dialogue to increase gold companies’ responsibility over their products beyond the mine gate.

Historically, the gold sector has been plagued by concerns about the use of gold in fuelling conflict and laundering money.

Scrutinising emissions can be a broader way to improve governance, transparency and reduce risk, responsible investment campaigners say.

“Pretty much all sectors will have to get to grips with the implications regarding scope 3,” said John Mulligan, a director responsible for market relations, at industry body the World Gold Council.

Scope 3 emissions caused by the use of oil in transport and iron ore and coking coal to make steel are far greater than from the gold sector, though those industries say their products are vital to society.

The extractive industry began acknowledging responsibility for pollution beyond scope 1 and 2 emissions, which are generated by their own operations, when Royal Dutch Shell said it would set scope 3 targets a year ago. In mining, the biggest of the listed companies, BHP, in July said it would set scope 3 goals.

Vale followed suit earlier in December. World No 2 iron ore producer Rio Tinto has yet to announce scope 3 commitments, saying in March it was “primarily the emissions of our customers, mainly steelmakers in China, over which we have limited control”.

A Rio spokesperson said its position had not changed, but it is working on technology to reduce emissions.

Reuters