Concord recognises that as a global commodity trading house, it will increasingly be held to account for its carbon footprint and its business standards. While Concord has always endeavoured to operate to the highest standards and good principles since its founding, it is becoming more important to articulate how those standards and principles are implemented. Concord knows that shareholders are interested in this topic from an investment perspective, trading partners are themselves also being held to account, ESG performance data is increasingly linked to loans and other forms of financing, and governments are being mandated by voters to achieve progress on climate change through policy and legislation. Concord has an opportunity now to demonstrate its commitment to these areas in a meaningful way and in turn, continue to demonstrate adherence to the standards and principles that it values and wants to promote through its culture and its actions.
Today, Concord is pleased to introduce the following ESG statement reflecting its values:
“The global resources business is in a dynamic phase as the world transitions to a different, more sustainable energy mix. Concord is playing a part in this transition by efficiently and responsibly supplying essential commodities that are a required part of this global shift. Environmental, social and corporate governance considerations are increasingly important to our stakeholders and we are committed to incorporating these standards throughout our decision-making process, our culture and our growth.”
As a global resources merchant, trader and investor, Concord is focused primarily on the physical supply chain, trading and risk management of non-ferrous metals and associated raw materials markets. Concord is active across the metals markets, from refined metal products and alloys to raw materials and concentrates. This activity covers product chains including, but not limited to, copper, cobalt, aluminium, zinc, lead, nickel, precious metals, as well as some speciality metals and ores. Many of the minerals and metals that Concord trades are critical for the clean energy transition which is currently taking place. Cobalt is required for batteries, aluminium is used in the construction of lighter, more efficient vehicles and electricity networks rely heavily on copper and aluminium, with copper in particular being a cornerstone for many electricity-related technologies and renewable energy solutions.
Concord engages skilled and experienced marketers, traders and operations teams to implement transactions and maintain relationships with its partners, suppliers and customers globally. It creates value along the supply chain by providing a premium service to customers who are seeking an intermediary for the sale and purchase of commodity products.
Since inception, Concord has always implemented responsible business practices in its dealings with counterparties. Concord aims to reflect these responsible business practices throughout any part of the supply chain over which it has control. This is reflected in the products that it chooses to merchandise, from the source to the end customer. Concord carefully selects the supply of its product mix, including ‘clean’ aluminium options that are available or copper which will continue to fuel the renewable energy transition. There is a rigorous know your customer (“KYC”) process when dealing with new counterparties or whilst seeking to expand geographical reach.
KYC and Counterparty Due Diligence
Concord screens all potential counterparties through a KYC on-boarding process. In addition to standard checks of existence and ownership, it adopts a risk-based approach to categorising counterparties, including an assessment of potential exposure to ESG issues by jurisdiction and business model. Concord requests and investigates each counterparty’s own policies and behaviours to ensure they share the same commitment to a responsible and legal supply chain. The Concord KYC methodology is regularly reviewed to ensure it remains up to date with developing international standards.
Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI)
Concord joined the ASI in March 2020. As a global non-profit organisation, ASI’s purpose is to set sustainable standards throughout the aluminium industry. By working with stakeholders worldwide, ASI seeks to ensure that responsible standards and practices are established and maintained. This collaboration encourages positive environmental, social and governmental impacts across the entire aluminium value chain. As an ASI member, and with Concord’s active participation in the aluminium market, Concord can further deepen its engagement in creating a sustainable value chain alongside industry partners. Concord is proud to support the mission and work of ASI which creates a global sustainability benchmark in the aluminium industry and enables firms to continuously re-assess impact and add value to the environment in which we all operate.
Investments and initiatives
In 2020, Concord became a minority investor in CarbonChain. CarbonChain is a platform established to help companies automate and account for their green-house gas (GHG) emissions across supply chains. CarbonChain’s products offer quantitative and actionable solutions to reduce GHG emissions across different supply chains — oil & gas, mining, metals, minerals and agriculture — which together are responsible for a high proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. This investment supports our commitment to ensuring sustainable practices are at the core of our decision-making. In addition to being a minority investor, Concord is also a customer of CarbonChain. Using the data generated from the platform, Concord’s marketing teams will be able to assess the carbon emissions from each trade, enabling them to make more informed decisions on sourcing, marketing and delivering materials with a lower carbon footprint to customers, without compromising quality.
In 2020, Concord purchased an equity stake in the joint venture of ElementUS Minerals, a green technology company. The aim of the venture is to deploy a certain technology to extract valuable rare earth elements and minerals from bauxite residue at the Gramercy alumina refinery in the U.S. Rare earth elements are an essential ingredient for permanent magnets which are used in the manufacture of wind turbines and EV motors.
Concord continues to work alongside industry participants Rabobank, PGS, Aon and Generation 10 to develop metals blockchain technology. The consortium aims to drive efficiency, traceability and transparency in metals trading and repo financing using the blockchain platform. Pure electronic handling of repo transactions (either on a PC or mobile phone) cuts down on paper wastage and is more efficient because it enables the metal to be tracked from the point of trade to delivery with real-time confirmation of completion, without manual intervention.
Concord upholds the highest standards of corporate governance throughout the organisation. It has a detailed set of governance and compliance policies with robust procedures which set out ethics and principles which all Concord directors, staff, agents and consultants are required to observe. These include but are not limited to policies regarding whistleblowing, data protection, confidentiality, anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, sanctions risk-assessment and compliance, anti-modern slavery, market abuse and insider trading and co-operation with authorities. Together with the Concord Code of Conduct, these policies set out key standards and principles by which Concord conducts itself with all its partners. A core element of the Concord culture is holding ourselves to high ethical and legal standards and it is expected that our counterparts meet similar high standards as well.
Conduct and Compliance
Concord’s success and reputation is founded on the trust and confidence that its actions generate. Earning and maintaining trust is fundamental to Concord’s success and promoting responsible transactions is central to this practice. Concord’s Compliance team oversees compliance in relation to global activities across the business. The team works with the front and the back-office functions to ensure that controls are robust and aligned with the latest international standards. Concord maintains a compliance culture where all staff recognise personal and collective responsibility. The high standard of behaviour expected is preserved by the Concord Code of Conduct which all employees must adhere to and formally acknowledge upon commencing employment.
Companies have a responsibility for their employees, as well as a responsibility for their impact on the societies in which they operate – for instance, in terms of working conditions, labour rights and diversity. Responsible sourcing of metals is fundamental to Concord’s business strategy and this commitment is evidenced with its OECD Supply Chain Policy and its involvement with the UN Global Compact. In addition to the principles encompassed in the OECD Supply Chain Policy and the UN Global Compact, other guidelines which are upheld by Concord in this area include the LME Responsible Sourcing Requirements, the EU and US Global Conflict Minerals regulations, Modern Slavery laws and the various responsible sourcing standards, guidelines and requirements issued by relevant industry associations.
OECD Supply Chain Policy
The OECD Supply Chain helps Concord to identify and mitigate salient health, safety, social and environmental risk in its supply chain. Responsible sourcing is an undisputed area of focus for Concord when supplying commodities to customers, encompassing crucial human rights criteria along with environmental due diligence of supply chain producers.
UN Global Compact
Concord became a signatory to the UN Global Compact in 2016. The UN Global Compact is a call to companies around the world to align strategies and operations against the United Nations Ten Universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take actions that advance these goals. Organisations are asked to unite as a force for good with the goal of committing to sustainability, such that all industries can take shared responsibility for building a better world. Through individual and collective responsibility, Concord is committed to upholding these principles, for itself and also that of the industry.
In 2015, the UN enshrined certain Sustainable Development Goals as the key to achieving the transformational change it wishes to see by 2030. Concord is seeking to develop its impact and focus, by identifying certain of these UN Sustainable Development Goals that it can promote (appropriate to its activities, operations and position in the global value chain) to ensure its activities align with and help contribute to the broader societal goals that the UN Global Compact enshrines. In future ESG commitments Concord will seek to highlight and align how its actions and activities are contributing to achieving change in these Goals.
Modern Slavery Policy
As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, Concord has committed to a zero tolerance approach to Modern Slavery. Through all of its dealing, relationships and partnerships, Concord acts in an ethical way to ensure its business influence does not contribute to modern slavery in any form. This is integrated into Concord’s internal processes through rigorous compliance measures (KYC, onboarding and due diligence). All of Concord’s employees are provided with a fair workplace environment and remuneration that is in accordance with local minimum wage legislation and typically well in excess. Equal opportunities are embodied in the recruitment process and maintained throughout the employees’ time at Concord. All employees are given training on a range of issues, including Concord’s position regarding Modern Slavery.
Forward-looking Goals for Concord in ESG commitments for 2021
The commodity trading industry is playing an integral part in a rapidly evolving economic landscape as legislation, regulation and industry come together to develop and implement international best practice standards for ESG assessment. These frameworks will have a direct bearing on how Concord (and its customers) interact in the future. Concord intends to be forward-looking in these assessments and implement best practice in line with its position in the supply chain. Throughout 2021 Concord will focus on the following:
- Working with CarbonChain to integrate both the product and the findings through the Concord value chain. Initial findings indicate that Concord’s carbon emissions from its 2020 trading activities are below the industry average for such trading emissions – this is a result which is applauded and which Concord will work to improve.
- Exploring the areas of Concord’s business model looking at where decision-making can be evolved to ensure Concord’s ESG commitments are maintained and seeking to ensure that Concord’s activities align with and help contribute to the broader societal goals that the UN Global Compact enshrines.
- Evaluating further metrics against which Concord’s performance can be suitably assessed. Concord is working to identify a reputable external sustainable rating agency that would be suitable to engage with our business.
- Increasing transparency and evolving reporting, including Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) requirements, where applicable within the business.
The ESG mission is far from complete and Concord is committed to continuing the work it has already achieved so far. Internal and external conversations in this regard primarily focus on how to ensure the ESG agenda is upheld throughout all of Concord’s business practices. Concord has made good advances with its ventures, partnerships and internal processes and believes it is in a strong position to keep making progress on its ESG performance in the years ahead.