Rigorous ESG reporting in the mining sector is now imperative. Companies are expected to publish detailed ESG information as a condition of financial investment, as well as to comply with directors' fiduciary oversight obligations.
Additionally, effective ESG reporting serves to reassure stakeholders - local communities and regulators - that a company is a responsible operator, a precursor to securing the social licence to operate.
Yet, given the plethora of standards - 600 at the last count - it was clear to Clark that effectively complying with these obligations was overly complex and resource and time intensive for small companies. Digitisation and automation could streamline the process.
This is where Clark, who previously founded the digital risk intelligence service, Canchek Corporation, saw an opportunity to share her expertise. Thus, Onyen was born.
Helping companies thrive
Onyen is a software as a service cloud-based solution that promises to consolidate and uncomplicate reporting to key ESG standards and frameworks.
According to the company, it utilises artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to provide a more intuitive, efficient and cost-effective process that is also predictive of future project risk.
For smaller mining companies, which depend on access to financing to thrive, a focus on good ESG reporting is paramount - and this is where the technology can save them time and money, Clark said.
"Using a myriad of spreadsheets and doing everything manually takes an inordinate amount of time. Our system cuts this down very aggressively so that some companies are reporting in four to six-week timeframes," she explains.
The Onyen platform, which as of January 2023 is being used by nearly 100 companies, does this via several "user-friendly" features.
Core ESG standards that are consistently reported on are all incorporated within the platform. As a user reports on one, the system automatically updates the information for the others, avoiding repetition.
An auto-calculator for all emissions, all measurement units and all countries, including calculation of emission limiting regulations per country of operation, streamlines the process further.
Furthermore, for ease of access, all data and information are stored in one place. For example, the executive dashboard displays multiple sites, regions and countries, where progress of reports can be monitored and questions that have not been completed are easy to view.
Users can also research issues by searching and viewing granular ESG details, while colour alerts highlight areas of concern for the executive team.
Clark is keen to highlight that Onyen is not solely focused on compliance reporting as a means to an end, however. Onyen can also help companies to accurately plan to improve the future of their business, for a fraction of the cost of some larger systems.
The platform enables companies to set corporate targets and track their performance on greenhouse gas emissions, and other quantitative criteria, from year to year. It also flags a company's risks and opportunities, so teams can not only better manage their outcomes, but also understand in which areas they're doing well and in which they need to improve.
But significantly, it's also predictive and "this is where the real power of the technology comes into play," Clark says.
Predicting the future
Onyen, which is in a period of expansion, has developed an AI capability using predictive models based on extensive data sources that can predict the potential risk and future states of projects. For example, Clark said the system can determine what will likely happen to local water levels and project water consumption over a five to ten-year timeframe.
"We are now gathering so much data that we can predict future challenges related to climate impact in a one degree or one and a half degrees scenario," Clark explains.
"This provides an enormous advantage to companies when they're starting a decades-long project that costs millions of dollars and will potentially impact the world."
This is where the system goes from being a reporting tool to an "extremely powerful management information system", she adds.
This level of future risk planning can demonstrate to an investor - and indeed regulators and other stakeholders - that a company has done a thorough material assessment and have planned for all eventualities.
"As an investor, I want to understand what the company will do about these future challenges Has it identified how it will deal with the project's energy and water issues? How is it dealing with its fuel consumption?"
Additionally, these predictive models will become more effective as they're fed more data, and this "will drive innovation within the mining community - technology is changing everything," Clark says.
Tailoring solutions for robust reporting
The guiding philosophy of Onyen is to provide a simple-to-use human interface that standardises complex reporting standards, but Clark states that it also accounts for the individuality of each project.
Templates are made-to-measure and standardised to each company, industry and reporting requirement per size of market capitalization. AI and machine learning are used to analyse a company's project information and then identify from the 32 globally accepted and most relevant disclosures which data points a company should be reporting on.
Junior companies will likely have less to inform on compared to the major miners, Clark said. But the most important metrics - energy and water management and consumption - are fundamental and inherently challenging areas, she added. It's important companies get the data right.
"It's incumbent on systems like ours to help customers see exactly what their data is going to disclose, and how to address it," she says.
To help companies report data better, Onyen identifies how the platform's algorithms work. This way, companies have an opportunity to address any potential challenges that might emerge from the data.
"If a company thinks it can hide behind disclosures that are broad and not transparent, they need to think again: data speaks, and algorithms are very good at deciphering factual information," Clark explains.
"It's incumbent on all of us to report responsibly, and the more transparent and concise the data that is shared, the better our industries become - helping us get to where we want to go, which is net zero."
In addition, for complete reporting transparency, Onyen's platform provides a detailed audit trail, date and time stamping of each action on the system - even if made on behalf of another.
Better automation and integration
As Clark has already expressed, good ESG reporting is no longer simply a "nice to have". Pressures for heightened disclosure are trickling down from the top of the market into the junior space.
In fact, it's expected ESG reporting will become mandatory for mining companies in most of the world by 2025, with the possibility of penalties and sanctions for those not complying.
In this regard, Clark said she believes there will eventually be a forced consolidation of the many standards in the market today, with several already becoming prominent, such as Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures which is supported by the Securities Exchange Commission and other organisations.
But while this may remove some complexity for companies, other requirements such as scope three reporting will also emerge as more relevant. Scope three emissions reporting, unlike scopes one and two which cover direct and indirect associated emissions, includes all other emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream activities of an organisation. These can often be the hardest to report on.
The Onyen platform intends to make this process easier by, among other ways, enabling companies to delegate appropriate data fields to suppliers for completion.
"We're seeing larger companies effectively forcing their vendors to use the system to do their reporting, so they can gather the information needed for scope three emissions. Much like putting through a block trade on a financial trading system and busting it when the trade is filled and allocating the amounts to the appropriate accounts and done instantaneously," Clark explains.
This can mitigate current bottlenecks that occur when companies are using antiquated systems that can't feed into one another easily, she added.
Overall, Clark believes it's inevitable the industry will shift to more automated and integrated compliance because the technology is here - and getting the reporting right is more important than ever. In fact, a company's future depends on it.
"Technology is a powerful tool for capturing and visualising data. It can highlight risks and opportunities and assist [with] timely communication and decision-making - and when you combine that with the power of AI, in the way we've done, it can do this immediately, so companies can be effective in the way that they manage and secure financing for projects today," she concludes.
ABOUT THIS COMPANY
ESG is a critical way for investors to evaluate companies in which they want to invest. ONYEN Corporation has created an innovative software solution that makes ESG reporting easy, while driving investment dollars to your company.
Contact email@example.com for a demo of the Onyen ESG reporting system.
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