JV Article: Onyen’s innovative software helps companies more easily address ESG reporting

Ethical investment is flourishing but for mining companies seeking to promote their green credentials, there are pitfalls. While environmental social and governance […]
Onyen CEO and founder, Laurie Clark. Credit: Onyen Corporation



[caption id="attachment_1003747976" align="alignnone" width="602"] Onyen CEO and founder, Laurie Clark. Credit: Onyen Corporation[/caption]

Ethical investment is flourishing but for mining companies seeking to promote their green credentials, there are pitfalls. While environmental social and governance (ESG) issues are gaining importance in the industry, finding a means of reliably preparing and publishing industry-compliant reports is complicated and expensive. This is especially true for juniors, small-cap and midsized-cap companies. For example, there are a proliferation of rating schemes and then there is the complexity of organizing data, perhaps originating in several locations, possibly across different countries. How does your company score? An objective reference range with which to measure your numbers against the ESG standards is needed.

To overcome these hurdles, Onyen Corporation in Canada developed an innovative and affordable software solution for resource companies. The genesis of this software came from a series of discussions Onyen’s founder and CEO, Laurie Clark, had with colleagues in the mining industry a couple of years ago.

“What I kept hearing from people in the resource sector left me wondering why things were so difficult,” Clark says. “It just seemed to me that things were so cumbersome, so complicated, so expensive and so time consuming.”

Clark is an entrepreneur coming from a successful career in capital markets in which she was a technology and business development executive. Her experience with building financial trading systems, where multiple-millions of dollars worth of transactions are processed every minute, gave her pause to think that there had to be a better way of doing things in the ESG world.

As she dug deeper, Clark realized that ESG reporting posed inherent obstacles for a large part of the mining industry, but most especially so for juniors and small- to medium-cap companies. This led her to realize there was a potential to bring her skillset to simplifying the situation.

“The bigger companies could afford to take months to compile their ESG compliance reports, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, or much, much more. But what about the juniors? The smaller companies? They simply couldn’t put that much time and money into it. So, I just thought this is crazy, and I knew there had to be a better way to do things.”

To address the problem, Clark assembled a team intent on bringing lessons learned from the financial industry to the resource sector. The Onyen team focussed on the key issues that smaller mining companies face when trying to address ESG compliance for rating agencies: compiling data efficiently, creating reports in a timely manner, and maintaining transparency.

By the time of the March 2020 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention in Toronto, Clark and her team were ready to unveil their new ESG solution. As it turned out, the PDAC audience was receptive.

“PDAC 2020 was an eye-opener,” says Clark. “The response we received was overwhelmingly positive and confirmed the need in the industry to make ESG compliance reporting more accessible and affordable, and we were confident that our new system would do that. We worked long hours to fast track the development of a customer-ready version.”

By November 2020, Onyen was able to rollout their new software, which was then further enhanced prior to onboarding the first mining companies in February of 2021.

At the heart of Onyen’s cloud-based software is a user-friendly interface that allows companies to generate accurate and timely reports.  It comes preloaded with the standards of all the rating agencies. Onyen’s approach is based on the simple premise of the user answering basic questions, much like using an income tax filing program. Once the data requested is entered, the software does the leg work to create the ESG report. The information entered drives the types of questions needed to be asked in order to complete the report. The software reliably leads users through details such as jurisdictions involved, currencies used, employee and contractor details, environmental issues and which ratings standard the ESG report is being prepared for. The end result is an ESG report, presented in an attractive Scorecard and PDF format.  It typically takes about three or four weeks from the date a company engages Onyen to the publishing of an ESG report on the company’s website.

Screenshot from Onyen's ESG software reporting system. Credit: Onyen Corp.

“This is even simpler than e-filing your taxes,” Clark points out. “Look, from mid-tier companies on down, they just want to get on with their core business. They don’t want to spend months putting together an ESG report. And they often aren’t able to spend a big part of their revenue on ESG, even though they realize it is now an important aspect of business. So, the approach we took was very basic: Onyen is like Tylenol. We alleviate your headaches. We solve your problems.”

Options when using Onyen include using the application program interface (API) to connect a company’s existing systems to Onyen and then directly input the ESG information to the reporting package. Companies can do trend analysis, upload prior year’s history and monitor progress towards corporate goals.  ESG data is automatically aggregated to a single executive-level dashboard so that the CEO, the CSR or the Corporate Director can get a quick colour-coded snapshot of what they need to focus on. They can peel back layers (the onion in the name “Onyen”) of supporting data to get a full picture of ESG at their company, including areas at risk that may require greater attention or resources.

Onyen ESG reporting is purchased in three flavours – standard, advanced and custom – which provide ESG reports updated annually, quarterly or in real-time. The standard plan costs $7,500 and includes annual updates, an ESG report, an ESG scorecard, and integration to the customer website. With new customers subscribing every week, Onyen is braced for a busy year ahead.

“Mining and exploration rely on innovation,” says Clark. “Our goal was to create a simple, easy to use, efficient and affordable means to compile ESG reports. And we achieved that.”

The preceding Joint Venture article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by Onyen Corporation and produced in cooperation with Canadian Mining Journal. Visit onyen.com for more information or [email protected] for a demo of the Onyen ESG reporting system.


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