Sustainability reporting for metals, mining, and crude-oil sector led by mid-sized firms

Source: Roberts Environmental Center, 17 March 2006

Of the 30 companies in the metals, mining, and crude-oil sectors whose environmental and sustainability reporting was analyzed by the Roberts Environmental Center in 2006, BHP Billiton had by far the best environmental and sustainability reporting based on the Center’s Pacific Sustainability Index. BHP Billiton is broadly diversified across these sectors so its reporting reflects environmental and social issues of every company in the sectors. Alcan (Canada), the second highest scorer confines its activities to aluminum, and Corus (Britain) to aluminum and steel. The highest scoring American company, Alcoa, ranked sixth, also confines its activities to aluminum. The lowest scores, a result of failure to post more than a minimal amount of company-specific environmental or social information on their web sites, went to US Steel and AK Steel in the struggling American steel sector.

There is a small positive relationship between company size and quality of reporting, largely resulting from the low scores of the smallest American companies in our sample. But almost the full range of scores was seen in firms with revenues between $9 billion and $16 billion. By far the largest firm in the sample, Pemex (Mexico), scored just above the middle of the pack and prevented the regression of score on revenue from being considerably more positive. There is no relationship between PSI score and net income or net profit margin.

All materials were scored using the Center’s Pacific Sustainability Index which also provides scores for six subcategories of reporting. The highest scores for these went to BHP Billiton for expressed environmental intent, Corus for environmental reporting transparency, Corus for quantitative environmental performance, BHP Billiton for expressed social intent, Arcelor (Luxembourg) for social reporting transparency, and BHP Billiton for quantitative social performance.

In these sectors the most reported environmental variables were environmental costs and investments, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy utilization. The most reported social information was compliance with code of business conduct, community education, and business ethics.

These findings are based on the information available on the web sites of the largest 30 companies in the metals, mining, and crude-oil sectors of the 2005 Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 1000 lists as of September 6, 2005. The Fortune 1000 includes only American firms, so all of the smallest firms in this sample are American.