Monthly Archives: September 2022

IRMA Mining Engagement Sep 2022IRMA Mining Engagement Sep 2022Blog

IRMA Mining Engagement Update – Sep 2022

IRMA Mining Engagement Sep 2022

As of September 2022, 65 mining companies are now engaged in IRMA representing 76 sites:

  • 56 sites are self-assessing under the IRMA Standard, the first step before an independent audit;
  • 9 are piloting the draft IRMA exploration (IRMA Ready) or mineral processing standard self-assessments
  • 11 independent audits under way: nine initial audits (South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Argentina) and two surveillance audits (Mexico, Zimbabwe)
  • 2 independent audit reports have been released — Anglo American’s Unki mine in Zimbabwe, and Carrizal’s Zimapán mine in Mexico
  • They encompass 25 countries:
    1. Argentina
    2. Australia
    3. Brazil
    4. Canada
    5. Chile
    6. Colombia
    7. Dominican Rep.
    8. Finland
    9. France
    10. Indonesia
    11. Liberia
    12. Mexico
    13. Mozambique
    14. Namibia
    15. New Caledonia
    16. Panama
    17. Philippines
    18. Russia
    19. South Africa
    20. Spain
    21. Sri Lanka
    22. Turkey
    23. Ukraine
    24. United States
    25. Zimbabwe
  • And 52 minerals and mineral types:
    1. Aggregates
    2. Barite
    3. Bauxite
    4. Cerium
    5. Chromite
    6. Chromium
    7. Coal (metallurgical)
    8. Cobalt
    9. Copper
    10. Diamonds
    11. Europium
    12. Feldspar
    13. Gadolinium
    14. Gold
    15. Graphite
    16. Iridium
    17. Iron
    18. Kyanite
    19. Lanthanum
    20. Lead
    21. Limestone
    22. Lithium
    23. Magnesium
    24. Mica
    25. Mineral sands
    26. Molybdenum
    27. Monazite sand
    28. Neodymium
    29. Nickel
    30. Osmium
    31. Palladium
    32. Praseodymium
    33. Platinum
    34. Potash
    35. Quartz
    36. Rare earth elements
    37. Rhodium
    38. Ruthenium
    39. Samarium
    40. Sand
    41. Selenium
    42. Silver
    43. Staurolite
    44. Sulphur
    45. Talc
    46. Tellurium
    47. Titanium
    48. Tourmaline
    49. Vanadium
    50. Xenotime
    51. Zinc
    52. Zircon
Lonely tree after the Jagersfontein mine tailings spill. Credit: MACUALonely tree after the Jagersfontein mine tailings spill. Credit: MACUABlog

What will we learn from another mine waste tragedy?

(Note: this blog appeared in the Sep 22, 2022 IRMA newsletter)

On September 11 in South Africa about 500km southwest of Johannesburg, the tailings dam failed at the Jagersfontein mine waste impoundment. Three people were killed, four more are still missing, and 40 were hospitalized.

This is a tragedy, and all the more so because it was predictable.

IRMA Board member Meshack Mbangula of Mining Affected Communities United in Action and other MACUA leaders are currently in the region, gathering the perspectives of communities. Meshack shares that some are still without water, electricity, sewage management, and with road blockages limiting children’s access to school.

From the world’s repeated recent experience with mine waste disasters, we know that poor tailings facility designs, aging facilities, and increasing frequency of extreme weather associated with climate change will combine to cause more mine waste tragedies around the world for communities living near mining operations.

We can act to minimize that threat. We join with others asking three questions:

  1. How can we prevent the construction of new mining waste facilities with this type of risk to fail?
  2. How can we provide sufficient funds for communities and governments to protect public safety from these mine waste risks even when mine ownership changes?
  3. The unbelievably difficult question of how to put protection of human life first at the thousands of places around the world where these dams already exist?
Meshack Mbangula of MACUA and IRMA's board, witnessing the Jagersfontein tailings spill aftermath. Credit: MACUA
Meshack Mbangula of Mining Affected Communities United in Action and IRMA board member, witnessing the Jagersfontein tailings spill aftermath. Credit: MACUA

The disaster, and reports of years of community effort to raise concern and attention to the risks, shows the importance of ongoing community involvement in addressing a mine’s impacts – for as long as the mine’s impacts exist.

IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining seeks to address these issues in not only our chapter on waste management, but also chapters on emergency preparedness and responseprotecting water resourcesstakeholder engagement, and reclamation, closure and financial assurance.  Learning from this experience will inform the update of how diverse stakeholders together define “best practices” in the IRMA Standard, due out in 2023.

Zortman-Landusky mine complexZortman-Landusky mine complex

The IRMA Standard – A Tool For U.S. Mining Law Reform

IRMA a Tool for U.S. Mining Law Reform_Examples of Gaps in U.S. Framework - coverOn Tuesday August 30, the IRMA Secretariat submitted a letter to the Biden Administration’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on mining reform.

The letter provides examples of areas where there are gaps between the good practices in the IRMA Mining Standard and the U.S. legal framework governing the mining sector. Although not comprehensive, the examples identify areas where gaps can be addressed to ensure conformity with good international practice.

These examples are based on a preliminary review of the U.S. legal framework. A requirement-by-requirement comparison between the IRMA Standard and the U.S. legal framework would be necessary to identify all the gaps, and could guide the work of the IWG and support recommendations for improvements to the U.S. legal framework. We recommend that such a study be funded and completed to inform IWG efforts.