Monthly Archives: January 2023

IRMA ltr to State dept thumbnail 20230127Blog

U.S., MSP should require IRMA

IRMA ltr to State dept thumbnail 20230127
Click to view letter as pdf

Public Information, Rm. 6808
Bureau of Public Affairs
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520-6810
AskPublicAffairs@state.gov

Re: The U.S. and Minerals Security Partnership Should Require IRMA when Selecting a Standard for Critical Minerals Projects

Dear Colleagues,

On January 23rd Jose Fernandez announced that the U.S. and other members of the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) are carefully selecting a set of critical minerals projects to support and are identifying a set of standards companies and countries will need to meet to receive related assistance.

The U.S. and the MSP should require the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) because it is a standard and system equally governed by private and public sectors, unique from industry trade association standards.

IRMA is a multi-stakeholder coalition that brought leaders from diverse sectors together in 2006 to craft the world’s first shared definition of what it means to mine responsibly: the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. The IRMA Standard is the result of a comprehensive process spanning more than ten years, including a public consultation process incorporating 1,400 comments from more than 100 different individuals and organizations.

IRMA members include six major automakers, leading jewelers, a wind energy company, mining companies, the world’s two largest global trade unions, leading human rights and environmental advocates, indigenous leaders, leaders of mine-affected communities, and increasing engagement from the investor and finance sector.

Not all standards for the mining sector are equal. Various sets of principles and standards are promulgated by industry trade associations and may identify as multi-stakeholder but do not provide an equal seat at the table for NGOs, affected communities, and labor alongside the private sector. The level of detail in the standards varies widely, as does the quality of assessment and reporting—ranging from company self-reporting with no public reports to independent third-party audits resulting in transparent public reports. Local stakeholders and rights holders may or may not know in advance that an assessment will occur or even be provided with an opportunity to share their experience and opinions.

IRMA stands out from industry trade association standards because it is recognized across stakeholder sectors and has already been recognized by multiple MSP members. The United Kingdom’s 2022 Critical Minerals Strategy references IRMA as a globally recognized framework for responsible mining. In 2021, the White House referenced IRMA in its 100-Day Review on Building Resilient Supply Chains, noting that IRMA is a possible “method for U.S. companies and the Federal Government to ensure that minerals are being sourced from mines with robust environmental, social, and financial responsibility practices.” The European Parliament referenced the IRMA Standard in its 2021 strategy for critical raw materials. The Government of Australia called IRMA a “no regrets approach” in its 2020 study of certifications and strategies to increase competitiveness of Australian battery materials for use in the EV sector in Europe.

IRMA is the only standard for the mining sector that fully embodies the Biden Administration’s environmental justice goals. This is because IRMA is the only standard for the mining sector that:

  • is equally governed by directly affected communities, NGOs, labor unions, mining companies, purchasing companies, and the investor and finance sector;
  • requires public notice in advance of an audit so that local stakeholders and rights holders can prepare to engage in the audit;
  • is applicable globally and covers all mined materials (apart from thermal coal, uranium, and deep seabed mining projects);
  • includes the full range of environmental and social issues related to industrial-scale mines;
  • requires detailed public reports made available at no cost to the public, with scoring and rationale on over 26 topics across over 400 requirements; and
  • has demonstrated credibility with civil society and labor unions.

IRMA is built on best practice norms. Existing international systems and frameworks form the basis of requirements in the IRMA Standard and are assessed in IRMA audits. These include but are not limited to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the International Cyanide Management Code, International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards, International Labour Organization Conventions, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Area Management Categories, the Minamata Convention on Mercury, OECD Due Diligence Guidance, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

IRMA requires completion of an independent third-party audit before any public claims may be made related to IRMA achievement. The IRMA system enables companies to clearly communicate their performance across a holistic set of best practices and work toward continuous improvement in environmental and social responsibility.

IRMA’s equal governance model upholds a standard and system that creates confidence and value across all stakeholder sectors and greater trust across supply chains. The U.S. and MSP should support and incentivize the IRMA Standard and system because of its unique accountability to all sectors and alignment with the MSP’s commitment to “adhere to the highest environmental, social, and governance standards.”

Sincerely,

Aimee Boulanger signature

Aimee Boulanger,
IRMA Executive Director


United Kingdom Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Resilience for the Future: The UK’s Critical Minerals Strategy, July 22, 2022, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-critical-mineral-strategy/resilience-for-the-future-the-uks-critical-minerals-strategy.

The White House, Building Resilient Supply Chains, Revitalizing American Manufacturing, and Fostering Broad-Based Growth: 100-Day Reviews Under Executive Order 14017, June 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/100-day-supply-chain-review-report.pdf.

European Parliament, A European Strategy for Critical Raw Materials, November 24, 2021, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0468_EN.html.

UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures and the University of Melbourne, Certification and LCA of Australian Batter Materials – Drivers and Options: Scene Setting Project Prepared for Future Battery Industries CRC, Future Battery Industries CRC, Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Business Cooperative Research Centres Program, August 2020, https://fbicrc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Certification-of-Au-Battery-Materials-WEB-INTERACTIVE-SEPT-2020.pdf.

U.S. Department of State, Minerals Security Partnership, June 14, 2022, https://www.state.gov/minerals-security-partnership/.

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Africa

IRMA at Indaba

Raising Standards for Mining

— Experiences Using IRMA —

Join Us for Breakfast and Dialogue in Cape Town

9 Feb 2023 | 08:00 a.m. – 09:15 a.m.
SunSquare Cape Town City Bowl
23 Buitengracht St., Cape Town

Join us for a breakfast discussion with public and private sector representatives about how they are using the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) to improve environmental and social management in the mining sector.

From critical materials for the energy transition and electric vehicles to materials for jewelry, electronics, household goods, and beyond, IRMA is a tool governed by and with benefits for all sectors.

Governed equally by NGOs, affected communities, labor unions, mining companies, purchasing companies, and investors, IRMA is used to conduct site-level assessments, increase transparency through independent third-party audits and reporting, and improve legal frameworks.

Our Panelists Include:

  • Kristi Disney Bruckner, IRMA Senior Policy Advisor
  • Sarah Makumbe, Anglo American Responsible Mining Program Manager 
  • Nyaradzo Mutonhori, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Programmes Manager
  • Vuyisile Ncube, Earthworks Making Clean Energy Clean, Just, and Equitable Advocate

Please join us for this informal breakfast. It is open to all and free to attend, but space is limited!

Please RSVP to reserve your spot by replying or emailing kvissers@responsiblemining.net


Presented by IRMA, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance

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NGOs and CommunitiesBlog

Happy New Year

New Year, New Board Members

As we welcome the new year, we are thrilled to welcome three new board members:

Community Sector: Pavel Sulyandziga, Russia

new IRMA board member for the community sector: Pavel Sulyandziga
Pavel Sulyandziga

Pavel is an Indigenous leader and human rights activist from the Bikin River valley in Siberia. He is dedicated to protecting indigenous communities, whose rights are often violated by business. Pavel has a PhD in Economics and is President of the International Indigenous Fund for Development and Solidarity “Batani” (Batani Foundation). He’s currently a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College (US) and at Law School University of Maine and was a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005 – 2010) and Member of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights (2011 -2018). He joins Meshack Mbangula of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) in representing the Community Sector.

Labor Sector: Meg Gingrich, Canada

USW CA logoMeg Gingrich is Assistant to the National Director of United Steelworkers (USW) Canada. For ten years she’s been on staff at USW Canada’s National Office, first as a researcher and now as the Assistant to the National Director. In that position she’s the senior administrative and policy advisor to the USW in Canada, with lead responsibility on issues relating to trade, industrial policy, and strategic planning. She’s also the central liaison on these issues with the leadership of USW United States. Meg is also the President of Blue Green Canada, which was co-founded in 2008 along with Environmental Defence as a joint labour-environment-community coalition. She joins Glen Mpufane of IndustriALL Global Union in representing the Labor Sector.

Purchaser Sector: Claudia Becker, Germany

new IRMA board member for the purchaser sector: Claudia Becker
Claudia Becker

Claudia is BMW Group’s Expert on Raw Material Strategy and Sustainable Supply Chain Management. Claudia has been working for the BMW Group since 2012 in operational and strategic purchasing functions. In 2016 she joined BMW’s responsible sourcing team with a focus on due diligence in mineral supply chains. Claudia works closely with supply chain partners and represents BMW in various international and cross-industry initiatives, such as Drive Sustainability, RMI and the GBA. Before joining the BMW Group, Claudia worked in the sector of international development cooperation including for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Cambodia on sustainable urban development. Claudia has an academic background in Geography from the University of Bonn with a focus on development cooperation, sustainability, and urbanism. Claudia joins J.J. Messner de Latour of Microsoft in representing the Purchasing Sector.

As we welcome Claudia, Meg, and Pavel to the IRMA board, we reflect with appreciation on the invaluable contributions of those who have served IRMA’s governance since its founding: Dewa Mavhinga, Mike Kowalski, Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Samara Rudolph, Joan Krajewski, Ephi Banaynal dela Cruz, Susan Posnock, Joe Drexler, Mark Rowlinson, Alan Knight, Nuskmata, Larson Bill, Loretta Williams, and many more to whom we owe deep appreciation for their work.

New Year, Same Unique Governance Model

While there are other multi-stakeholder, extraction-related and metals-related standards, IRMA’s governance model is unique: equal governing authority shared between six sectors with an interest in mining. For any board vote, if the two representatives from any given sector oppose a motion, the vote fails even if all other board members are in support. To our knowledge, the IRMA board is the only place in the world where communities, labor, and civil society have an equal voice alongside mining companies and other multinational corporations.

Looking Forward

2023 will be an important year in advancing IRMA’s vision: 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 work to create financial value for mines independently assessed against the world’s most robust mining standard will take a major leap forward. Audit reports for at least ten mine sites will be released in 2023, including the first lithium mines assessed in IRMA. 2023 will also see the IRMA Standard expand to include exploration and development, before mines are operating, and also mineral processing operations, as well as updating the current Standard for active mining operations.

We do this work to integrate learning from the first mine audits, and to create value for an evolving definition of “best practices”, shared across stakeholder sectors, for environmental and social responsibility. As with all of IRMA’s work, this is only possible through the engagement of all affected stakeholders and we welcome your engagement.

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