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Q&A with our Head of Environment:
Rohan McGowan-Jackson

In this interview, we talk to our recently appointed Head of Environment, Rohan McGowan-Jackson, about his new role and Anglo American’s approach to environmental management. 

What is your role at Anglo American, and what does that mean in regard to your day-to-day activities and responsibilities?

I work as the Head of Environment for Anglo American. My job is to help improve overall business performance by strengthening our management of environmental risks and opportunities. My team and I have direct accountability for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Anglo American’s corporate environmental programmes. We work in partnership with the operations and other corporate roles to support the company’s overall environmental performance.

I believe that proactive and effective management of our interactions with the environment will allow mining companies to reduce risk, grow their bottom lines (through opening new markets and/or increasing their margins), as well as gain access to critical mineral, physical (land and water) and human resources.

What were your first impressions of Anglo American?

I was impressed with the quality and capability of people across the Anglo American. In my first few weeks, I have already had the pleasure of working with an amazing diversity of different people – all of who have demonstrated extensive skills and experience, and a passion for their work and the business.

I have additionally been impressed with the quality of the environmental programmes already in place. In particular, our programmes associated with carbon and climate change risk (ECO2MAN), water efficiency (WETT), permitting (Minimum Permitting Requirements) and integrated closure, are well developed and a potential source of strategic competitive advantage for the business.

How can the mining sector continue to improve on its environmental practices?

I believe one of the most significant failures of the industry over the last 20-30 years, has been the inability to eliminate unplanned and uncontrolled impacts from mining on the surrounding environment. This situation is headlined by the failure of mineral waste storage facilities (such as tailings dams or waste dumps) that unfortunately continues to occur almost every year somewhere in the mining sector. However, it also includes smaller lower-profile, but damaging uncontrolled releases associated with Acid Rock Drainage, spills from pipes and failures of other mining infrastructure.

In this regard, I believe most stakeholders are willing to accept some level of environmental impact associated with our activities. Where we lose most support, and destroy the most value, is when we fail to control of our processes and have events that led to unplanned off-site impacts. As such, I believe in a ‘defense’ first approach to environmental management.

It is for this reason that I am very pleased to observe the progress Anglo American is making in focusing on critical control management through the Operational Risk Management (ORM) programme; in improving operational planning and discipline through Anglo American’s Operating Model (OM) roll out; and in strengthening oversight and governance around critical mineral waste storage and other mining infrastructure through the Technical Assurance programs.  

Learn more about our approach to environmental issues in the Sustainability Report 2015.

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