AAMEG Africa Awards 2021: Emerging ESG Leader Winner – Deep Yellow
By AAMEG | 29 September 2021
ESG IN THE CONTEXT OF A JUNIOR URANIUM EXPLORER
Deep Yellow Ltd (ASX Listed) is an advanced-stage uranium exploration company aiming to become a tier-one, low-cost uranium producer. It has a dual pillar growth strategy focussed on organic growth through the development of its existing asset base in Namibia and inorganic growth through a targeted merger and acquisition program.
It holds a tenement package in Namibia of some 1.600km2. Its two key projects comprise the Reptile Project (100%) where, following a positive Pre-Feasibility issued in January 2020, a Definitive Feasibility Study is currently underway due for completion last quarter CY2022.
The Namibian operations are managed by its subsidiary Reptile Mineral Resources & Exploration Pty Ltd (RMR) based in Swakopmund, Namibia. All the tenements are located within the Namib-Naukluft National Park (the Park), an area of close to 50,000 km2 and the fourth largest national park in the world.
Although still in the pre-development stage, Deep Yellow decided to produce its first Sustainability Report in 2020, commensurate with and appropriate for the size of the company and to uses as a foundation document as the Company evolves. Also, being part of the uranium industry, Deep Yellow needs to place even greater importance and focus on sustainable reporting and transparency. The industry is often misunderstood by the public in terms of health and safety and, as such, a participant in this sector needs to demonstrate in a transparent manner that it operates at optimal performance levels across both the technical and non-technical aspects of its business.
In the context of the uranium and broader nuclear industry, Deep Yellow needs to show positive adherence to ESG principles, to provide confidence to its stakeholders and staff that the Company is doing its work with the required rigor.
Approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters
The expectation of ESG adherence must be an important part of the corporate existence at an early stage to allow effective implementation of key ESG principles as the group grows and develops.
On a day-to-day basis, this is achieved through:
- Its policy framework starting with the Group’s governance policies providing the overarching philosophy and all available on the Deep Yellow website
- Local operationally focussed policies, processes, and SOPs
- Regular training and toolbox talks
- Policy framework specifically addressed at inductions and requirement for adherence included in all legal agreements and contracts, also with recipients of CSR funding
- Participation in and membership of relevant industry groups both in Australia and Namibia
- Good interactive working relationship with Park authorities
- Attendance at workshops, training, and simulation exercises to ensure local Environmental Control Officer and Radiation Safety Officer are at the forefront of requirements and best practice.
- KPIs at local and senior management level cover ESG principles and performance
- Responding to community needs at times of crisis – e.g. funding and logistics support for food parcels through Hand of Hope due to COVID-19 effect and implemented at short notice to respond to urgent local need. Significant Covid-19 assistance in recent times with the provision of medical supplies to local hospitals and provision of oxygenators. The latter followed an in-depth due diligence process to determine the optimal type of support during the third COVID wave. The oxygenators were also built locally to further assist the community and achieve longevity for the machines with local maintenance and repairs available
- Budgeted annual CSR expenditure – in addition to making funding of CSR projects a requirement of associated joint ventures
- Participation of staff to assist with local community projects
- Defined process to assess CSR projects for suitability – assessing recipient’s governance and financial processes, and sustainability. On approval, management of the recipient group undergo governance training and the organisation is subject to monitoring.
- Finalised CSR projects are subject to formal review to assess success or otherwise and take on lessons learned for future projects.
- Publishing a Sustainability Report for transparency and confirming the importance of ESG to its stakeholders.
- Prior to publishing the first Sustainability Report, an annual CSR Report was published detailing community projects and contributions
- Engaging external auditors to review SHE processes and performance on an annual basis at local operations. The latest audit conducted in March 2021 concluded “An excellent level of compliance and relevant improvement observed…”
- Extensive community consultation with Interested and Affected Parties (IAP) as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process underway to support the Mining Lease application submitted in July 2021 on the Tumas Project, Namibia
- Ongoing flora, fauna and archaeological surveys using recognised local experts as part of the EIA process
- Full transparency in our economic impact (ie taxes paid, contributions made) at our Namibian operations published in our Sustainability Report
Example of a Company initiative in Africa that aligns with one or more aspects of an ESG topic
By producing a foundation Sustainability Report last year, generally not expected until a company moves into production, Deep Yellow’s initiative has shown leadership in its sector by highlighting the fact that, even at an early stage of pre-development, it is possible to publish a Sustainability Report. Whilst at Deep Yellow’s level of operation it is not possible to adopt such significant reporting standards as GRI (developed for those companies with a production history), it is possible to present a meaningful report that is fit-for-purpose and provides ESG transparency to its stakeholders. The report is in keeping with the size of the company and provides a foundation to allow this report, over the coming years , to successfully grow, evolve and ensure the Company reports to required standards on this very important pillar. In particular, it provides the local communities, government, and staff with confidence that the group is contributing to the growth and prosperity of the country in a meaningful and transparent manner.
The current year’s report is in preparation and not complete in time for this submission. Using the 2020 report as a baseline, this year’s report will expand particularly in those areas addressed through the EIA. The expectation is that the report will continue to expand in detail as the Company matures through to a producer.
Reptile, the local Namibian subsidiary, again won the Chamber of Mines 2020 InterMining Competition Award for safe operations. The award was officially presented by the Namibian Minister of Mines and Energy during a videoconference held on 15 July 2021 attended by industry representatives and the media.
It was very pleasing to note that Reptile received the Safety Award for the third year running. Total LTI free working hours since the start of recording in January 2018 amount to 880,051 hours.
Community Projects as shown in last year’s Sustainability Report have remained largely the same with efforts focussed on education, early childhood development, sport and the environment although significant relief was provided to several COVID initiatives. Additional budget funds were released to assist the community in this regard.
In addition to our budgeted projects, funds are always made available to contribute to emergency relief needed in the community. Any such funding is however predicated on a due diligence process to ensure funds are not mismanaged and are directed where needed.
Other useful supporting information
The last Sustainability Report issued for the year end 30 June 2020 is attached. The report for the 2021 year is currently in preparation. All are published on Deep Yellow’s website.