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Sustainability Reporting in the Mining Industry

The purpose of this thesis was to examine the sustainability reporting of global mining companies. A review of prior literature indicated that sustainability has grown as a concept of interest in recent decades. Early studies concentrated on the characteristics of organisations producing sustainability reports and proffered different theories explaining why these reports are produced. While more recent research has focused on sustainability in the mining sector, no prior study had looked at the content of the sustainability reports of multiple mining organisations. This study, therefore, provides greater understanding of the concepts and themes used within mining companies’ sustainability reports. The study data drew on 104 electronically available sustainability reports collected from 32 mining companies covering the period 2010 to 2013. The mining companies were further classified according to their International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM) membership status. A content and thematic analysis was conducted using Leximancer software, a computer textual analysis program. The software analysed the data and produced concept findings, key themes, and concept maps from it. The findings showed that the most frequently used concepts across all the sustainability reports were community, employees, local, production, and safety. At 27,727 interactions, the concept of community had the greatest number of interactions with other concepts. When the number of interactions was divided by the concept count, education was seen to have the highest number of interactions per concept appearance, followed by power, consumption, coal, and employment. The theme findings identified five theme groups: Community, Safety, Production, Water, and Employees. The summarised findings for the individual companies revealed variation across the different companies. The count percentage of the second most frequent concept, compared to the most frequent, ranged from 99% to 49%. The third most frequent concept’s average relevance score ranged from 97% 38%. When limiting the individual companies to their 5 most frequent concepts, 29 concepts were found to be in use across the 32 different companies. The most common concepts to rank in the top 5 overall were operations, ‘company name’, management, development, and mine. The findings revealed 65 concepts across the 4 investigated years; 22 of these concepts were found to be common concepts. The study identified 17 top 10 ranked concepts for the 4-year period; however, 4 of these ranked consistently in the top 10. These were community, production, report, and local. The findings for the three different ICMM member categories revealed 19 concepts that ranked in the top 40 across all categories. The concepts of community, employees, report, production, and local all had an average rank inside the top 10, regardless of ICMM membership. This study provided greater insight into the sustainability reporting practices of leading global mining companies. The findings revealed the concepts and themes that appeared within the sustainability reports. More research is needed to understand the different concepts and the reasons for the variability in reporting and reporting trends over time. This study has provided a preliminary review which can be used to better understand how mining companies are using sustainability reporting in light of the inherent paradox between sustainability and mining.  
Type of thesis
Rae, S. M. (2016). Sustainability Reporting in the Mining Industry (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). University of Waikato. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10870
University of Waikato
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