With implications for industry experts and non-experts alike, the process to update the JORC Code (the Australasian mining professional code of practice) is around halfway to completion. While we can expect to see themes like Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues take on new prominence, the code’s update will stick to its fundamental principles of transparency and competency

Steve Hunt, JORC Committee chair, and Roderick Carlson, JORC Committee ex-officio member, explain what goes into drafting an updated code that reflects today’s mining industry. 

Collaboration to identify JORC Code ‘hotspots’ 

Close collaboration has been at the heart of the process, says Hunt: “We had an online survey process up to the beginning of last year,” he explains. “We have a pretty good idea of where there’s pretty high satisfaction with how the code is and where the hotspots are.” 

These ‘hotspots’ will be familiar concepts to many mining industry stakeholders, ranging from competency, risk, ESG factors and reasonable prospects tests under JORC, to structural concerns which address the useability of the code itself. 

“For our online survey, we had 500-odd submissions,” adds Hunt. “We got them from not just Australia-centric organisations but companies that are reporting on exploration results and projects all around the world.” 

This diverse range of views provides the committee with the insight required to update the ten-year-old code to reflect the current worldwide reality of mining operations. In an industry as complex and accountable as this, stakeholder engagement cannot be compromised. 

Updates to consider broader stakeholder groups and consistency with other international mining codes 

“It’s our role to engage with the membership, especially in the competency space,” explains Carlson. “Those aspects of competency and the measurement of competency are probably the most complex of all the issues to implement within the industry.” 

The next challenge for the code is to consider not just industry experts but those analysts and investors who are some of the main users of press releases and market reports. JORC working groups have brought in analysts from across Australia and New Zealand to understand the stress points of non-market users of the code. 

For investors, who are the decision-makers putting their money on the table, the transparency of key information is vital. The updated JORC Code aims to account for their needs, including through alignment with international codes. Ensuring that key definitions are consistent across codes alleviates pain points and eases compliance for investors operating in more than one market. 

With so much change to keep up with and so many stakeholders to account for, the code is sticking to its key principles.

JORC Code changes to encourage greater transparency 

“The fallback position has always been to describe what you’re doing and how you’re managing risk,” says Hunt. “It’s about making sure there’s good transparency around your key assumptions.” Across the mining industry, even as issues like ESG take much more prominence, one of the major trends remains finding new ways to describe and show risk and uncertainty. 

As for those waiting for the new JORC update, they can expect more public engagement and public communications as the new code is progressed.