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As mining operations begin to open up again worldwide after a slowdown caused by COVID-19, projects that had been delayed are restarting, and investment activity is on the rise. 

In this context, a new JORC Code is being developed, expected by the end of the year. Experts Steve Hunt, JORC Committee Chair, and Roderick Carlson, JORC Committee Mx-officio member, join AMC’s Principal Geologist Peter Stoker and Executive Lead of Business Development Mark Chesher to discuss what this means for the mining industry.

JORC Code challenges

“The industry is buoyant. There’s a lot of new company listings, and the activity rate for exploration around Australia is at all-time highs across many states,” says Carlson. Last updated in 2012, the challenge for the JORC Ccode is to reflect the industry at a time of significant change and development. 

Hunt introduces a number of key issues which are expected to feature in the code update:

Competent persons and ESG considerations

“There’s a substantive review around competency and how people become competent persons,” he says. “And there are several other pieces of work on the growth in ESG risks being material to projects.” 

Administrations will have to work to understand and comply with changes to the JORC Code. This may involve new due diligence requirements, such as additional information around both ESG commitments and geological issues to be included in pre-feasibility mining exploration studies. The JORC Code can also be used for the reporting of minerals exploration or mineral resources.

Reconciliation

“One of the areas is around reconciliation,” Hunt adds. “The current version of the code has always asked for reconciliation to be declared, but we are likely to end up with a new clause around reconciliation.” As in any transition or integration period, education will be a powerful enabler – and the experts agree that this education must reach throughout organisations, through Director and Executive levels. 

“The key is communication,” explains Carlson. “It’s a matter of informing through publications and conferences.

How the JORC Code can better represent the mining industry

In a word, today’s market is dynamic. New markets are being developed in geographies including southeast Asia and Africa, sustainable investing means ESG issues continue to grow in importance, emerging geopolitical factors are shaping the way resources are developed, and investors are responding to a more buoyant market. The updated JORC Code has the opportunity to represent all these dynamics of the industry. 

“It’s going to be an interesting period, and it’s a good time to be conducting the changes to the code,” says Chesher. 

Stroker concludes: “The changes that are coming are bringing the code up to date with where the industry and the community has moved to in the last ten years. I see very positive outcomes to this revision of the code.”