UNFC to help drive smart investments into mineral and energy projects
There was the consensus that the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) is an appropriate point of departure for a new international initiative to assess projects on their social, environmental and economic benefits and support innovative financing mechanisms.
A two-day International Scientific-Practical Conference on Harmonization of Approaches in the Assessment of Mineral Reserves and Resources, co-organized by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Moscow, 30-31 May 2018, convened over 250 experts from Europe, Asia and Africa to explore a new global approach to attracting investment in mining and petroleum projects. There was the consensus that the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) is an appropriate point of departure for a new international initiative to assess projects on their social, environmental and economic benefits and support innovative financing mechanisms.
Anatoliy Yanovskiy, Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia, in his keynote address stressed that the aspiration of every country is to target stable growth, employment and revenues. Having more certainty in mineral and energy flows and their contribution to growth is something that can make a significant impact in all countries including Russia. Anatoly Torkunov, Rector of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University, noted the rising importance of financing of mineral projects in non-traditional ways and improving human competencies to take on the new challenges.
“The mining and petroleum industry is plagued by many issues and risks”, said Igor Shpurov, General Director of the Russian State Commission of Mineral Reserves (GKZ) and First Vice-Chair of the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification. “Having a new language based on UNFC that can be a medium for State institutions, businesses and investors to communicate seamlessly on sustainable production has become urgent”. In the future, smart mining, big data and innovative approaches to financing will gain ascendancy. The role of UNFC will then be even more substantial. This requirement is already becoming visible with the penetration of technologies like blockchain in the new industry ecosystem.
Presentations from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, United Kingdom and Africa highlighted areas for improvement. “Removing duplication of many processes and procedures in the State, companies and financing bodies and unification of rules horizontally, as well as vertically across minerals, oil and gas etc. are becoming urgent”, said Sergey Shumkov, Deputy Director of Department for Coal and Peat Industry, Ministry of Energy, Russia. “This will also help fix appropriate responsibilities and build trust amongst stakeholders”. Building up institutions for competent persons charged with a new agenda for mineral and energy industries has challenges in some national contexts, but with international collaboration, these could easily evaporate.
New multilateral institutions like the New Development Bank, also known as the BRICS Bank, are committed to harnessing opportunities in a new generation of smart and innovative technologies to support sustainable infrastructure. Making UNFC the universal standard for smart financing looks promising in this context. In parallel, there should be a movement to improve the competencies of the human resources, where universities such as MIGMO in Russia and multi-layered partnerships with other countries and institutions will be crucial.
The conference was organized by UNECE, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Commission of Mineral Reserves (GKZ) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University and sponsored by the Russian coal company Karakan Invest.
It is recognized that raw materials and energy are the backbones for sustainable development. In a world facing multiple social, climatic and environmental challenges, managing the supply of mineral and energy resources is becoming more and more complex. In this context, investors increasingly are interested in channelling funds for both profit and longer-term societal benefits.