A framework for the measurement and reporting of environmental costs at a platinum mine
Du Plessis, Anél
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Environmental issues are an increasing concern for various stakeholders in the mining industry. To address these concerns, managements of mining companies should embrace sustainable mining practices in their daily decision making processes. Internal decision making processes are strongly dependent on the quality of data included in reports used by management. Currently environmental issues are only considered as a separate item which is attached to the annual financial statements. No link is made between the environmental performance of the mine and the economic performance that is achieved. To achieve greater acknowledgement by management of the importance of controlling environmental costs on a daily basis, environmental costs need to be identifiable in internal management reports, including management accounting reports. Various methods are available with which the value of environmental inputs and outputs can accurately be determined. If these values are correctly integrated into information systems, reporting these environmental costs will be possible, allowing a mining company to consider triple-bottom-line reporting. The goal of this study is to assist mining companies, specifically platinum mining, in measuring and reporting on environmental costs by setting up a framework. This framework will be formulated by means of conducting a thorough study of the recent and current literature pertaining to the measurement methods of environmental costs upon which a comparison will be drawn between this theory and the actual measurement and reporting of environmental costs by means of case study research. A gap analysis has identified the problems that platinum mines are experiencing, and consequently, the framework created will assist platinum mines in introducing the reporting of environmental costs. A case study on a platinum mine was done in order to evaluate the current measurement methods and reporting on environmental costs. The collected data was analysed through explanation building and an organisational-level logic model was developed in order to understand the reasons that costs are recorded and reported on by using the method currently applied in the case study principal. This organisational-level logic model will assist in identifying problems within the current costing method in relation to environmental cost measurement and reporting. The findings identified by the case study were compared to the theory underlying environmental management accounting after which a gap analysis identified the problems that platinum mines experience. Based on the findings of the gap analysis, a framework was developed to assist platinum mines in closing the gap that has been identified. The framework, if applied within an organisation will assist mining companies in expanding their current reporting on environmental issues to an in-depth review of environmental impacts which can be linked to the achievement of economic performance. This will allow a step forward in triplebottom-line reporting as the value of environmental costs has been identified as the missing link in current financial reports. The framework could not be tested as the application of the framework requires a procedural change within the organisation which needs to be approved at top management level. This limitation does, however, open the possibility for a follow up study. Additional reporting on environmental costs will help management in adding value and quality to daily and overall decision making processes. This hypothesis can be tested in possible future studies which involve multiple-case studies and which will extend the framework to include a decision making matrix.