Central Asia Metals (AIM:CAML)#
Central Asia Metals (AIM:CAML) has published details of its inaugural sustainability report; although the company has always placed CSR and sustainability at the forefront the report highlights this and provides a quantitative benchmark for performance going forward.
There is still some debate as to the quantitative impact that strong ESG practice has on investment returns although studies have generally shown that stronger ESG scores correlate to higher returns; in 2019 Oxford University concluded that based on the results of 200 studies strong ESG reduced the cost of capital and resulted in stronger operational performance underpinning that stronger share price performance.
CAML is certainly at the forefront of this in terms of the junior mining sector, recently strengthening its BoD with the appointment of Dr Gillian Anderson, who now sits as Chair of Sustainability Committee. The company has highlighted low total recordable injury frequency at Sasa and Kounrad, two and zero respectively in 2019 down from six and two in the prior year. New operating practices have been implemented at Sasa since acquisition in late 2017 which appear to be having a positive impact on safety. This focus on robust operating practices and procedures is also reflected in the fact that neither site experienced significant air quality breaches or spills.
The impact on groundwater is increasingly in focus for base metal mining, particularly in South America where the growing lithium industry now competes against the incumbent copper miners. CAML is demonstrating how this can be lessened with a 43% reduction in net water consumption by recycling water from underground operations. Tailings have also been an in focus issue for the mining industry and as well as independent audits of its tailings facilities at Sasa CAML is also studying a potential change in mining method which would enable underground storage of tailings reducing the company’s overground footprint.
Although we have previously highlighted that a portion of taxes in North Macedonia go directly to the local community CAML also implements its own initiatives locally and this is an often-overlooked part of many mining company’s activities. Social project spending in 2019 totalled US$0.6m covering recreational, educational, medical and other community projects. With scrutiny across all of these aspects of the mining industry likely to only increase, CAML’s head start bodes well for future performance in our view.
We reiterate our Buy recommendation and 206p target price.