Sustainable Development >Our Approach
The nature of our business impacts the environment and the communities surrounding our operations. We mitigate impacts to the extent practicable through state-of-the-art control and remediation measures. We develop infrastructure, support health, safety and education efforts, and provide local employment and business development opportunities. The metals that we produce are critical for a sustainable, healthy, energy-efficient society.
To supply essential metals to current and future generations, we rely on our stated business objectives, principles and policies, and we continuously improve our sustainable development programs. Our approach has three core elements:
Principles of Business Conduct Our approach is based on the overarching values detailed in our Principles of Business Conduct. It sets forth the global system of principles that our workforce must follow in all activities — from avoiding conflicts of interest to developing positive relationships in local communities. Our supporting policies, along with external standards and initiatives, form the overall framework that guides our sustainability programs. Supporting this framework are internal governance and management systems that provide the essential details on how we operate.
Public Policy Committee The Public Policy Committee of our Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing our sustainable development programs. It examines key performance data and receives briefings concerning challenges and emerging issues. During 2011, the Public Policy Committee received various reports and considered numerous items including safety and occupational health systems, environmental programs, regional healthcare initiatives, our worldwide social and human rights programs and our community investments. The Public Policy Committee reports to our Board of Directors, which provides global oversight on all matters, including the economic viability of our Company — the first element of our approach to sustainable development.
Sustainable Development Leadership Team In 2011, the Freeport-McMoRan Sustainable Development Leadership Team was established to help promote and integrate our sustainability commitments into our operations. The team is sponsored by our Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, led by our Vice President of Environmental Services and Sustainable Development and includes business presidents and senior personnel from the safety, supply chain, human resources, compliance, finance, sustainability and environmental functions. During the year the team acted decisively to facilitate implementation of our sustainability programs and related external initiatives including the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework. The team also received reports on socially responsible investing (SRI) and is evaluating ways to further improve reporting and communications with the SRI community.
Audits/Independent Assessments To ensure that our policy commitments and sustainability objectives are being met, we implement a combination of audit and assessment programs in key areas. For example, every major operation must undergo a robust internal audit of environmental and health and safety systems at least every two years. We also undergo annual independent assessments of our Resettlement Action Plan at TFM in the DRC. We continue to engage independent experts to review programs, including our efforts regarding human rights, artisanal mining and community development.
Project Development Checklist for Sustainable Development Our Project Development Checklist is a process that we use to incorporate environmental, social and economic considerations into mine development and expansion projects. This process assists with the identification of primary risks and opportunities for the project relative to sustainable development. Resulting action plans identify strategies for addressing prioritized risks and opportunities, with steps identified at each stage of project development starting with prefeasibility studies. This tool complements our operational Sustainable Development Risk Register (discussed below). In 2011 and into 2012, with multi-disciplined project teams, we implemented this tool for eight major expansion projects and are currently embedding sustainability strategies early in project plans.
Sustainable Development Risk Register Our Sustainable Development Risk Register is the primary process we use to identify and prioritize environmental, social and economic challenges and opportunities across operations. Local management teams use a company-wide procedure to maintain Sustainable Development Risk Registers focused on current operations. This procedure provides for a site-level, cross-functional review of operational risks using a risk matrix with eight consequence categories that range from community or environmental harm to reputational or financial impacts. Importantly, this tool also enhances decision making regarding operational planning and resource allocation as we track progress in reducing sustainability-related risks. It also promotes identification of opportunities to leverage our resources for improved community and stakeholder engagement, as well as environmental performance.
During 2012, we are engaging our internal audit function to review select action plans resulting from the Sustainable Development Risk Register process to increase our level of assurance that our sustainability programs are adequately addressing key issues for our business and our stakeholders. As we roll up site-level results, commonalities and materially distinctive sustainability risks are presented on our corporate Sustainable Development Risk Register and tracked by senior management.