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Climate Position Statement: Q&A with Daria Grigoreva, Head of Sustainability at Polyus

19 March 2021
Climate Position Statement: Q&A with Daria Grigoreva, Head of Sustainability at Polyus

Why has Polyus chosen to publish a Climate Position Statement? What does this mean for Polyus?

Polyus’ Climate Position Statement outlines our company’s key priorities in working to help combat climate change as well as mitigate against the risks our business may face as a result of global warming. It sets the scene for the publication of Polyus’ Climate Strategy, which is planned before the end of this year.

Climate Change is a pressing issue globally, affecting all industries at different levels, and is therefore a priority for Polyus. We are acutely aware of the physical risks of rising temperatures and their potential impact on the operations of mining companies, as well as on the communities around us, making this an important area for action.

We recognize that our Stakeholders’ expectations have rightly changed to include greater disclosure on companies’ ESG risk management — including in the area of Climate Change. This is why it is our intention to provide deeper transparency on our initiatives in this area both with the publication of this initial statement, and detail on our Climate Strategy at the end of this year.

Our Climate Change Position Statement represents an important step as part of a long-term commitment; this is a sustained issue and will be an ever-increasing part of our agenda going forwards.

What are Polyus’ main priorities regarding Climate Change? What is your approach to tackling climate risks?

Our five main priorities regarding Climate Change, as announced, are as follows:

  1. Climate change mitigation — this means improving the accuracy of our GHG accounting, taking steps to cut our Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and improving our overall energy efficiency.
  2. Enhancing resilience to the impacts of climate change — we aim to do this by using both qualitative and quantitative tools to identify physical climate and transition risks.
  3. Taking advantage of opportunities resulting from adaptation to climate change — taking steps to enhance the Company’s operational efficiency through our climate change strategy
  4. Commitment to transparency — continued commitments to improving the quality and frequency of our climate-related disclosure
  5. Cooperation to tackle climate change — promoting collaboration both within and outside our sector, and across different countries, to foster a global culture of climate action

In addition, we have mapped out our climate risks and completed a preliminary qualitative risk assessment, as well as scenario analysis and capacity building for the investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of our operations at a pilot Business Unit. Our pilot program is now complete, and as a result we have developed a set of risk management tools and completed a full financial assessment of our climate-related risks.

What is Polyus doing at an operational level to minimize the impact of Climate Change?

Most importantly, I would like to highlight that we are making proactive efforts throughout our operations to also reduce our contribution to climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. For example, we have recently signed a supply agreement with Russia’s largest energy provider RusHydro to supply Polyus Krasnoyarsk Business Unit with 100% renewable energy, significantly contributing towards the decarbonization of our operations.

Are there new opportunities that have arisen as a result of an enhanced industry stance against Climate Change?

Absolutely, many companies in our own and other industries are facing the same issues that we are today, so there is a lot of scope for us to learn from each other in terms of setting new best practice in this area. As we take steps to reduce our own carbon footprint, we are also becoming more efficient in terms of our energy and cost profile; taking decisive action to combat climate risks can help us to reduce our costs, enhance our revenues and improve our relationships with our stakeholders, as well as helping us to identify potential new business opportunities.

From an innovation perspective, an improved attitude towards tackling climate change has also given rise to considerable development. We are fortunate to be witnessing significant technology developments, including the use of spatial data, artificial intelligence, and a higher use of automation and remote operation in mining — all of which can help us to remain resilient against climate change and manage our climate risks, while also reducing costs and improving our health and safety performance at our operations.

What should the industry be doing to tackle Climate Change?

As an industry, there is a lot we can do to tackle climate change. The sector has always responded to the challenges of working in varied physical environments, and lately has made great strides in raising awareness of these issues, and many companies already have approaches, tools, data and teams in place to identify and manage their climate-related risks; however, taking decisive, impactful action as an industry is required.

Most importantly, we should be ensuring that we are taking the right steps going forward. For example, focusing our business development processes and new managerial standards in a way that will ensure we are minimizing our carbon footprint. In optimizing efficiency, ideally miners should be switching away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as hydropower, and supporting their development, we have seen this as a growing trend internationally, with hydropower increasingly providing a reliable and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, as we have found ourselves.

At an operational level, the challenge that is particularly relevant to our sector is ensuring that our sites and facilities will retain their resilience to the physical impacts of climate change — miners need to ensure a certain level of adaptability, as well as foresight, to ensure that we are anticipating what might happen next and that we are well positioned to absorb weather and climate-related shocks and changes as they emerge.

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s also important that industry adheres to higher and more transparent reporting standards, particularly in relation to climate matters. Polyus is committed to enhancing our disclosure, and our 2020 Sustainability report this year will be completed in line with Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), enhancing our reporting of climate-related information. We also need to look beyond Scopes 1 and 2 when determining our emissions methodologies — Polyus is now looking to determine our Scope 3 impact methodology, and this is a step all majors should be taking.

Climate change is a complex issue. But this isn’t a reason to avoid taking action, and by building climate resilience today, miners will be in a position to reap better rewards tomorrow — limiting future liabilities, safeguarding the continuity of our business, making prudent investments and ensuring the sustainability of our communities and ecosystems.