The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) has released the second and revised draft Standard for Responsible Mining for a sixty-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 over 1400 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 seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification programs in organic agriculture, responsible forestry and sustainable fisheries.
“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,” said Joan Krajewski, General Manager, Compliance and Safety, 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 ten 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, 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,” said 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. It serves as a credible multi-stakeholder tool to allow participating mines to differentiate themselves as leaders in environmental and social responsibility,” said Alan Knight, General Manager, Head of Corporate Responsibility at ArcelorMittal. “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. We have worked hard to ensure that the interests of working miners and communities are fully represented in the development of this multi-stakeholder certification and assurance reporting system for the mining industry,” said Glen Mpufane, Mining Director at IndustriALL and a former underground miner and member of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa.
Stakeholders and the general public are invited to participate in this next round of feedback and input. After the 5 June 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.
Each of the quotes above is from a member of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance Steering Committee. Additional Steering Committee members include Joe Drexler of United Steelworkers, Larson Bill from the Western Shoshone Defense Project, Alan Young of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, and Jon Samuel of Anglo American. 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, IRMA will offer a secondary “candidate” status for mine sites that meet a core set of threshold requirements, and a also scoring tool to measure continuing improvement for mines at all levels. The certification program will be based on independent third-party verification and 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.