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Revised Draft of ‘Standard for Responsible Mining’ Released for Public Review

Comment on first-ever certification program for industrial-scale mine sites

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - 11:00

(IRMA: Washington, D.C.) -- On April 5, 2016, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) has released the second and revised draft of the “Standard for Responsible Mining” for a 60-day review and public comment period ahead of the first-ever global certification program for industrial-scale mine sites, planned to begin in late 2016.

This second draft of the Standard for Responsible Mining reflects the input from more than 1,400 points of comment contributed by more than 70 organizations and individuals worldwide, including industry and technical experts. Additionally, in October 2015 and March 2016, IRMA conducted two field tests of the Standard for Responsible Mining to ground-truth the draft standard through simulated mine audits in the United States and in Zimbabwe. Auditors hired by IRMA reviewed company documentation, made first-hand observations at the mine site, and conducted interviews with company representatives and other stakeholders to verify the requirements in the standard are clear, practicable, and measurable.

With growing awareness and demand for ecologically and socially-responsible products, jewelers, electronics businesses, and others have sought assurances that the minerals they purchase are mined responsibly. The standard developers seek to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification programs in organic agriculture, responsible forestry, and sustainable fisheries. The following comments are from members of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance Steering Committee.

“Microsoft believes that fairly applied global mining standards such as outlined in the Standard for Responsible Mining are key to helping solve labor, human rights, and environmental issues at the far reaches of industry’s supply chains,” says Joan Krajewski, the general manager of compliance and safety at Microsoft. “Collaborative initiatives like these can help improve practices associated with mining of metal ores at their source, which is why we work closely with and support IRMA.”

The draft Standard for Responsible Mining is the result of 10 years of collaboration between groups from the mining industry, organized labor, nongovernmental organizations, impacted communities, and businesses.

“We believe that using our brand to advocate for critical issues like responsible mining is one of the most important things we can do,” says Anisa Kamadoli Costa, the chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co. “Today, collaboration across sectors is necessary to drive systemic change. As a founding member of IRMA, working across sectors to strengthen mining standards, we are proud IRMA is close to launching its certification. We believe IRMA’s progress represents a significant step toward a global standard in responsible mining.”

“IRMA’s value lies in the commitment by leaders from five different sectors to establish meaningful, verifiable environmental and human rights standards for mining,” says Jennifer Krill, executive director at Earthworks, an international mining reform group.

ArcelorMittal believes that, although challenging and rigorous, the Standard for Responsible Mining is possible to implement over time,” adds Alan Knight, the general manager and head of corporate responsibility at ArcelorMittal. “It serves as a credible multistakeholder tool to allow participating mines to differentiate themselves as leaders in environmental and social responsibility. We commend the addition of a scoring tool that allows mines at all levels to demonstrate continuing improvement in the areas of environmental and social responsibility.”

The Standard for Responsible Mining’s best practice requirements for mining include elements such as health and safety for workers, human rights, community engagement, pollution control, mining in conflict-affected areas, rights of indigenous peoples, transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments, and land reclamation once mining is done.

IndustriALL Global Union represents over 50 million workers in mining and manufacturing in 140 countries,” notes Glen Mpufane, the mining director at IndustriALL, and a former underground miner and member of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa. “We have worked hard to ensure that the interests of working miners and communities are fully represented in the development of this multistakeholder certification and assurance reporting system for the mining industry.”

Stakeholders and the general public are invited to participate in this next round of feedback and input. After the June 5, 2016, comment deadline, the steering committee will make another set of revisions to the draft Standard for Responsible Mining and release the final standard in late 2016.

The Standard for Responsible Mining will cover mine sites, not mining companies, and will not certify extraction of energy fuels (e.g., uranium, coal, oil, or gas). In addition to the certification process for mines that meet the standard requirements, IRMA will offer a secondary “candidate” status for mine sites that meet a core set of threshold requirements, also scoring tool to measure continuing improvement for mines at all levels. The certification program will be based on independent third-party verification. The steering committee seeks to achieve compliance with ISEAL Alliance’s Code of Good Practice for standard-setting. IRMA is planning a “pilot phase” for the first certifications in 2017 to encourage rapid learning and system improvements.


About The Author


Founded in 2006 by a coalition of nongovernment organizations, businesses purchasing minerals and metals for resale in other products, affected communities, mining companies, and trade unions, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) envisions a world where the mining industry is: • respectful of the human rights and aspirations of affected communities • provides safe, healthy and respectful workplaces; avoids or minimizes harm to the environment • leaves positive legacies.