Australian lithium producers have topped the global rankings in a new assessment that ranks companies based on sustainability and fairness.

Miners’ response to climate change, land management and gender balance in the board room are part of the complex assessment by London-based research agency Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Australia is forecast to mine nearly half of the world’s lithium output this year as growing demand for electric cars and industrial equipment drives battery production.

But ambition, ethics and company structures are under scrutiny as global investors weigh where to put the green capital needed to help the world achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.

Australian miner Pilbara Minerals and WA mining services company Mineral Resources come out on top in Benchmark’s first report that ranks the world’s lithium supply-chain players based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

The other ASX-listed players in the top ranking are Orocobre and Galaxy Resources, now merged and renamed as lithium miner Allkem.

The mining industry is trying to make sense of how ESG-minded investors are thinking about risk and growth.

But some commodity producers are not providing the information needed by decision makers, the report found.

Almost half (45 per cent) of operating lithium mining companies and 42 per cent of lithium converting companies publish ESG reports, while less than one in 10 developing firms provide the Information.

Charlotte Selvey-Miller, head of ESG at Benchmark, said reporting didn’t have to be complicated.

“At the core, ESG should be about increasing transparency and accountability in this industry,” she said.

China is forecast to maintain its refinery dominance through the decade and beyond, but it is a laggard on public disclosure of workers’ conditions, environmental standards and other key criteria.

China’s first ESG disclosure standard for industry took effect on June 1, which Benchmark said should improve disclosure.



* A current ESG or sustainability report has been produced by the company

* The report is publicly available and easily accessible

* The company has a dedicated ESG team or committee

* Biodiversity indicators are used to assess the impact of operations on the ecosystem

* The company has a timeline to reach net zero emissions and clean up the value chain

* The carbon footprint has been verified to international standards on a life-cycle assessment

* The company does not have a 100 per cent male board.


Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)