CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE: Covalence releases ethical ranking including resource companies

Covalence, the Geneva-based organization that tracks the ethical reputations of multinational companies, has releas...

Covalence, the Geneva-based organization that tracks the ethical reputations of multinational companies, has released its Q1 2009 rankings. Among the 541 companies rated, the most ethical by Covalence standards is chip-maker Intel Corp. (where my younger brother works).


The top company in the basic resources category is Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, which is rated No.6 across all sectors. The No.2 spot in basic resources is held by London's Rio Tinto, which is No.13 overall. The remaining top 10 basic resource companies are Anglo American, UPM-Kymmene Oyj, International Paper, Xstrata, Nippon Steel, Impala Platinum, Vale and, in 10th spot, Canada's Kinross Gold.


Congratulations to all the high-ranking companies, especially Kinross. With its seven operating gold mines and metal revenue of US$1.62 billion in 2008, Kinross is dwarfed by the larger miners (US$38.5 billion for Vale, US$33.0 billion for Anglo American, US$28.0 billion for Xstrata, US$26.9 billion for Alcoa, US$10.3 at Rio Tinto, US$4.1 billion at Impala Platinum).


So that everyone is clear on what Kinross expects from his corporate social responsibility efforts, it lists its 10 guiding principles at The first is personal safety for every employee. The other nine are equally as clear.


Other mineral producers rated by Covalence on the basic resources list were No.11 BHP Billiton (headquartered in Australia), No.14 Gold Fields (South Africa), No.21 Teck Cominco (Vancouver), No.26 Harmony Gold (South Africa), No.28 Newmont Mining (United States) and No.29 Barrick Gold (Toronto).


Interestingly, in the oil and gas category Canada's Suncor ranked second and Petro-Canada ranked sixth.


Covalence ranks companies on 45 criteria in categories such as working conditions, impact of production, impact of product and institutional impact. The information is gathered via the Internet and from the press, correspondents and other organizations. I hope there are not a lot of disgruntled shareholders corresponding with Covalence and saying that everything is rotten about a company's corporate social responsibility record. Covalence is not clear on how it weights reports if bias is suspected.


Among the list of sources that Covalence uses, amid the names of press, trade unions, government and professional organizations, I found the name Canadian Mining Journal. Guess I'd better watch what I say.


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