Monthly Archives: March 2022

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IRMA’s Response to Russia’s Attacks on Ukraine

IRMA is deeply concerned with the terrible conflict in Ukraine. As we have both private sector and civil society organizations working with IRMA in the region, we have spent the last week reaching out to our participants, other multi-stakeholder standards systems, and experts in auditing. We welcome feedback from any stakeholder on our course of action.

  • IRMA civil society organizations focused on Russia, working for greater environmental and social responsibility in mining, are encouraged to continue to engage in IRMA.
  • Private sector purchasers and investors with concern for more responsible practices may continue to ask mining companies in Russia to measure their performance against the IRMA Standard.
  • For mining companies based in Russia, all effort at this time must be with the IRMA Mine Measure self-assessment tool, which can guide them on areas that may need improvements to protect social and environmental values. No external claims of IRMA achievement by companies using the tool will be allowed in the market. No mining companies in Russia have yet been independently audited against the IRMA Standard. We will not commence auditing in the region until there is greater stability and confidence that diverse stakeholders may safely engage in a robust independent audit. Additionally, a decision has been made to pause membership activities for Russian-based mining companies at this time.

We join the global community in heartache for the suffering at this time of violent conflict there and in other places around the world. We affirm IRMA’s core vision regardless of the geography: a world where the mining industry respects the human rights and aspirations of affected communities, provides safe, healthy and supportive workplaces, minimizes harm to the environment, and leaves positive legacies.

Our position is an initial response and will evolve as appropriate with global circumstances and we welcome your feedback at info@responsiblemining.net.

UPDATE: 21 March 2022

Nornickel Statement

Nornickel is a Russia-based mining company that had pending membership status in IRMA and, as a result, was preparing for independent audit. IRMA has encouraged the company to continue to use the self-assessment tool to understand IRMA requirements and to seek opportunities for improved performance, and we hope to engage in an independent audit in the future. The company has shared with IRMA the following statement:

Nornickel has agreed to pause its pending membership status in IRMA, and will continue to work independently and will continue to use the IRMA Mine Measure self-assessment tool to prepare for independent audit to improve practices that reduce environmental and social impacts. We believe that the findings from this informal exercise will make a useful guide on how we can improve towards IRMA standards, while we are held on pause.

Batani Statement

Batani (International Indigenous Fund for development and solidarity) is a non-governmental organization and an IRMA Member. They have shared with IRMA the following statement:

Batani stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in their struggle for freedom, and we are extremely concerned about ensuring the rights of Indigenous peoples during the war on Ukrainian territory. This war has also created security issues for indigenous peoples living in Russia. As a result, Batani appreciates the steps IRMA has taken to pause the Nornickel audit until it can be done in a manner that ensures the safe engagement of communities affected by the Nornickel operations.

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Spotlight: IRMA Member, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)

From time to time, our blog will feature IRMA Member organizations, allowing them to explain, in their own words, their interest in forwarding more responsible mining and why they are engaged with IRMA.

Below are responses from Fadzai Midzi, Programmes Assistant, ZELA

What is the mission and primary work of ZELA?

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) exists to promote equitable, just, and sustainable environmental and natural resources management and protection of marginalised communities and citizens in Southern Africa. ZELA is motivated by a strategic mandate to influence mineral resource governance to ensure that communities benefit from exploitation of natural resource. Our, our work is mainly based on legal, policy reforms, partnership building, implementation and participatory research, impact and strategic litigation and movements such as the Publish What You Pay Coalition, that ZELA coordinates.

How did you become engaged with IRMA?

ZELA believes in partnership building locally, regionally, and international. In driving the mission, ZELA has collaborated with likeminded organisations including chairing platforms such as the Alternative Mining Indaba and the Kimberly Process – Civil Society Coalition. Through such platforms, ZELA learnt the value of being affiliated to the IRMA, whose mission is linked with that of ZELA, that is to protect people and the environment directly affected by mining. Thus, ZELA decided to engage and learn from IRMA whose value cannot be overemphasized.

The engagement started in 2019, when UNKI Mine was undergoing its audit certification process. IRMA came into the country when the Zimbabwean government had expressed interest to adopt and implement the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), a globally recognised standard on promoting transparency and accountability in the extractives sector.

Through Unki Mine, IRMA proved that disclosure in mineral exploitation is possible. When the Unki Mine IRMA audit report came out, ZELA managed to raise community awareness on the report, as a way of encouraging grassroot level participation of marginalised communities in development of correctional action plans, in response to the audit. In 2021, ZELA joined IRMA and the organisation has been advocating for adoption of the IRMA audit tool, in Zimbabwe.

Are you finding value in having an IRMA audit report on the performance of a mine in your region?

  • IRMA has ignited our work which is mainly based on evidential rigor to influence better natural resource reforms.
  • We acknowledge the usefulness of the IRMA audit report information helping us to improve our engagements through evidence gathering and access to information provided by the audit reports on mining operations and their impact on communities’ wellbeing, rights, and the environment.
  • The IRMA audit report also informs in carrying out advocacy work during national, regional, and international dialogue processes such as the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI), the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) and the Kimberly Process-Certification Civil Society Coalition
  • The IRMA audit tools help to bring out and plug some of the governance gaps for mining companies, for instance that was noted through the UNKI Mine audit.

What more or different would be helpful to you in your work to drive more responsible practices where mining is happening?

What would be helpful to our work is to have more companies adopt IRMA in Zimbabwe, to prove that the private sector has the capacity to be transparent and promote good governance in natural resource governance. Hopefully, that should encourage government to also take interest in utilising the audit tool for state owned enterprises. Partnerships with other IRMA members, and cross pollination of ideas with other IRMA members, contributes to advocacy for responsible mining.

For more information:
Visit the ZELA website

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