The purpose of this study was to investigate the link between environmental reporting and financial reporting by listed South African mining companies in order to determine the degree of integration between these two processes. Many companies disclose environmental information in their financial report (FR) or in a stand-alone environmental (ER) or sustainability report (SR). However, the environmental information contained in these reports does not always satisfy the information needs of shareholders, analysts and investors. In most cases, it appears as if current ERs do not sufficiently reflect the business implications of environmental issues for companies, hence the lack of interest in such reports among investors and analysts. Although many analyses of ERs and FRs have been performed, there is a lack of evidence regarding the relationship between financial reporting and environmental reporting. In an attempt to address this gap in the literature, this study examined the current practice of relating environmental reporting to financial reporting of selected mining companies. The environmental components of sustainability reports (SRs) and the financial reports (FRs) of six of the largest South African mining companies were examined to assess the relationship between environmental and financial reporting. Forty-six environmental disclosure indicators relating to environmental information with business implications were identified from South African legislation, general accounting standards and best practice guidelines. The reports were examined using the indicators as benchmarks. The nature of disclosure for each indicator was recorded for each report. The level of linkage or integration regarding disclosures for the same indicator between the ER and its associated FR was assessed. Integration scores were determined for the main indicator categories, for individual indicators as well as for each company, based on seven potential levels of integration. The study concluded that, generally speaking, the current link between environmental reporting and financial reporting among the sample companies was very limited. The contribution of this study lies in the identification of a wide range of environmental disclosure indicators from a variety of sources, and the application thereof for assessing the relationship between environmental reporting and financial reporting.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2011.