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Does it pay to be green? : an empirical study of the South African mining industry
Prinsloo, Thomas Frederik
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In recent years, the growing importance of environmental and social issues has put pressure on companies to implement environmental and social systems. With the pressure on companies to improve environmental performance, environmental management accounting can provide a valuable tool that enables companies to respond to environmental challenges. The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between environmental performance and economic performance in the South African mining industry and also to identify and evaluate the opportunities to improve both a company's environmental performance and economic performance. In this study, scatter plot diagrams were used to determine the relationship between environmental performance and economic performance in the South African mining industry. Ten South African mining companies were selected for the study and their financial information as well as environmental information for the period 2005 to 2009 was used. After the analysis of the scatter plot diagrams was done, it was found that it pays to be green for coal–mining companies, but not for gold– and platinum–mining companies. This study also identified that environmental management accounting is essential to identify and effectively manage environmental costs to improve environmental performance and that it is a very important tool to help companies to implement environmentally friendly programmes for ensuring a company's long–term strategic position. Despite all the risks and challenges facing the mining industry, opportunities to improve a company's environmental performance and economic performance, include emissions trading, development of new technologies, investing in projects in renewable energy and an increase in demand of mining products due to the effects of climate change. The value of the study is that it is the first study to investigate the relationship between environmental performance and economic performance in the South African mining industry. This study is also unique as it takes into account how investors see the company in terms of environmental performance. This study uses economic performance measures from an internal and external point of view and not merely from an internal point of view like the previous studies. Companies in the mining industry as well as investors can use the findings presented in this study to realise the importance of preserving the environment as well as the importance of triple bottom line accounting.