June 30, 2023
ANSI Senior Director of International Policy and Strategy
Dear Mr. Cornish,
Thank you and your colleagues at the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for the opportunity to submit comments on the DIN ISO Sustainable Raw Materials Proposal.
We do not think the ISO Sustainable Raw Materials standard as outlined in this proposal is needed because the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is already addressing the gaps identified in the proposal.
Monthly Archives: June 2023
As of Jun 2023, 74 mining companies are now engaged in IRMA representing 94 sites:
- 58 sites are self-assessing under the IRMA Standard, the first step before an independent audit;
- 21 are piloting the draft IRMA exploration (IRMA Ready) or mineral processing standard self-assessments
- 15 are in the independent assessment system: 12 audits are underway (South Africa, Senegal, Mozambique, Brazil, Chile, Argentina) and 3 completed audits have been published (Zimbabwe, Mexico, Chile)
- They encompass 29 countries:
- Dominican Rep.
- New Caledonia
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- United States
- And 52 minerals and mineral types:
- Coal (metallurgical)
- Mineral sands
- Monazite sand
- Rare earth elements
The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is pleased to announce that the Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau has committed to third-party independent assessments of its Várzea do Lopes and Miguel Burnier iron ore mining operations in Minas Gerais against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. Both mining complexes have been in operation since 2006.
SCS Global Services, an IRMA-approved certification body, will be carrying out the assessment, which includes a desk review (stage 1) followed by an onsite audit (stage 2). After SCS’s draft audit report is reviewed by IRMA and Gerdau, Gerdau may release the report or has the option to take up to twelve months to implement a Corrective Action Plan before the audit firm assigns a Performance Level.
Stakeholder Engagement in the Assessment
Interested stakeholders and members of the public can sign up to receive updates about the Gerdau independent assessments (e.g., the timing of the stage 2 onsite visit, link to public summary of audit results). The Mines Under Assessment page of IRMA’s website will also provide up-to-date information on all assessments.
Mine site stakeholders are invited to submit comments to SCS Global Services regarding the social and environmental performance of the Gerdau operations (in particular, how the performance of the mine sites measuree against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining).
Stakeholders of the Gerdau mines may also contact SCS Global Services if they are interested in being interviewed as part of the assessment process.
Stakeholder comments and expressions of interest in being interviewed as part of the audit process can also be submitted by email or mail to:
SCS Global Services
2000 Powell St. #600 Emeryville, California, USA 94608
Please share this announcement, and feel free to contact SCS Global directly to provide names and contact information for other Gerdau stakeholders who may be interested in knowing about and participating in the mine site assessment process.
For more information
- On either of the Gerdau operations –Várzea do Lopes or Miguel Burnier — contact IRMA’s Director of Assurance: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For general information on the IRMA mine site assessment and certification process, visit the IRMA website.
- IRMA: Várzea do Lopes independent assessment status page
- IRMA: Miguel Burnier independent assessment status page
On 21 June, the day after the release the audit report of Albemarle’s Planta Salar de Atacama lithium operation, IRMA hosted a webinar to discuss the significance of the report, and the IRMA Standard and process through which the operation was independently assessed. In volunteering its operation for assessment and scoring IRMA 50, Albemarle submitted its practices to unprecedented public transparency, providing information that all stakeholders can use to decide what’s going well, and what may require more attention, at the mine.
The 1 hour webinar, which is about 1/2 presentation and 1/2 Q&A, is available below in English and Español.
As interest and engagement in IRMA continues to grow, we are now seeking new staff.
The Standards Director will focus on and oversee the development of IRMA’s standards, including managing public consultation processes on new standards and revisions of existing standards, overseeing expert working groups, and developing and updating standard guidance.
The successful candidate will work closely with IRMA’s Executive Director, IRMA’s Assurance Director, and IRMA’s Senior Policy Advisor.
Mining Engagement Lead
The Mining Engagement Lead will support mining companies to find value for their engagement with IRMA; guide them to use the IRMA Standard and system to improve mines’ social and environmental performance; and develop tools, materials, and interactive sessions to engage and educate mining sector stakeholders.
The successful candidate will work closely with the Deputy Director, Executive Director and the team of sector and regional leads.
Albemarle’s Salar de Atacama became the first lithium mine in the world to complete an independent audit of their performance against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. The audit can be found on the Salar Plant, Salar de Atacama (Albemarle) mine assessment page, the IRMA press release is in english and español, and you can download an audit packet including the audit itself and supporting materials (español).
IRMA’s Executive Director Aimee Boulanger and Assurance Director Michelle Smith will hold a webinar Q&A about IRMA audits on Wednesday 21 June at 11am Chile time (EDT). The webinar will be simultaneously interpreted in Spanish. Register here.
Albemarle’s Salar de Atacama operation scored at the IRMA 50 performance level (español), meaning the independent audit firm ERM-CVS verified that the mine met all critical requirements of the IRMA Standard, as well as at least 50% of the Standard’s criteria in four areas: social responsibility, environmental responsibility, business integrity and planning for positive legacies.
Salar de Atacama joins 12 other industrial-scale mines worldwide that are undergoing independent audits against the IRMA Standard in 2023. After an initial self-assessment, a participating mine engages a third-party audit firm — trained and approved by IRMA — to conduct a detailed independent evaluation, including on-site visits to the mine and nearby communities.
It’s important to note that IRMA audits do not yield “certification,” nor do they declare at what point a site becomes a “responsible mine.” The IRMA system is built to have more transparent conversation on the impacts, at a table where civil society and labor have voice equal to the private sector, and which seeks to create greater value to reduce harm.
In doing this audit, Albemarle has volunteered to be measured against a standard more rigorous, requiring more public engagement, and more transparent sharing of results than any other global mining standard. It is an act of leadership and commitment to increasing dialogue across diverse stakeholder sectors and with Indigenous rights holders to engage in this process.
It’s important to note that the audit report also provide an honest accounting for IRMA’s own progress as the Standard and its assessment process continue to mature. “If the results don’t fully reflect the experience of communities, Indigenous rights holders or other affected groups, we want to hear from them.” — Aimee Boulanger.
For More Information
- IRMA Salar de Atacama mine assessment page
- Press release: English | Español
- Executive summary: English | Español
- Questions & Answers about the Albemarle Atacama Audit Report: English | Español
- Backgrounder on the IRMA independent mine assessment process: English | Español
- IRMA Mine Site Assessment Public Summary Report of Albemarle’s Planta Salar de Atacama lithium operation: English | Español
- How to file Complaints and Feedback | Reclamos y Comentarios
- Wednesday, 21 Jun, 11am Chile time (EDT)
- Speakers: IRMA Executive Director Aimee Boulanger, and Assurance Director Michelle Smith
- Topics include: The IRMA process, how this independent audit occurred, how stakeholders can use this audit report
- Register here
Summary of recommendations:
- Article 29 should specify a certification scheme is not a replacement for a company’s responsibility or for government oversight
- Additional criteria for certification schemes in Annex IV including they be equally governed multi-stakeholder initiatives, provide access to a grievance mechanism and require publicly noticed third-party audits that are published in their entirety
IRMA is growing as more companies commit to third-party audits that independently assess their mining-related operations against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. To accommodate this growth, IRMA is seeking to expand the number of audit firms (certification bodies) that provide independent audits against the IRMA Standard in line with IRMA assurance requirements.
Interested bodies may apply anytime to become approved. IRMA has partnered with Assurance Services International (ASI) to manage the approval process, oversee performance of approved bodies and to formalize its oversight program more generally. The approval process includes a remote document review and a head office assessment against IRMA requirements.
Following approval, ASI will witness a sample of on-site mine site audits and carry out head office surveillance assessments. The IRMA Secretariat will compile regular performance reviews to ensure approved audit firms meet the defined expectations.
We are grateful to IRMA’s inaugural audit program partners — SCS Global Services and ERM Certification and Verification Services — as we expand our capacity.
To apply, and get more information on the approval process and the underlying requirements, visit the IRMA website under Auditor Resources.