Monthly Archives: February 2024

Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson-CCBY2.0Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson-CCBY2.0Standards

ISO, responsible mining, and multi-stakeholder engagement

As the ISO takes on important work on responsible mining, IRMA restates the importance of inclusive and meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement

On 15-16 February 2024 in Tokyo, Japan, IRMA participated in the first working session of the ISO IWA 45, an international working agreement on “sustainable critical mineral supply chains.” This project is led by Standards Australia (Australia’s national standardization body) under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and is tasked to “understand the range of sustainability tools/guides/frameworks available which will assist in improving an organization’s sustainability outcomes.” ISO is a quasi-governmental organization dedicated to standard development, headquartered in Switzerland and composed of the national standards bodies of its member countries.

This workshop was an in-person-only event which, while providing constructive opportunity for people to connect directly, dramatically reduced the number and diversity of stakeholders affected by mining and mineral value chains to participate. There were about 45 participants, with a majority from industry (mining and mineral processing) and consultants to the private sector, followed by government delegations (including national standardization bodies and state agencies or research institutions). The most represented countries were the United States, Canada, China, and Japan.

Articulating the perspectives of our members from six houses—affected communities, downstream purchasers, investment and finance, mining industry, NGOs, and organized labor—IRMA worked actively in the session to integrate the perspectives of civil society and organized labor, as those groups were not in attendance. We are concerned about how their absence might leave a significant gap in this process and encourage the event organizers to increase this outreach.

The working session opened with a summary of the results obtained from a preliminary survey circulated by Standards Australia in January 2024. Of the 115 full responses received, two-thirds came from the mining and mineral processing industry, 7% from NGOs, and 7% from academia. Most of the responses originated from China and Canada (over 10%), followed by the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Germany, South Africa, and Sweden; other countries were all under 3%.

Given the survey feedback was foremost from industry, the main insights shared by the workshop organizer reflected the positions of industry representatives who engaged in the survey, including the “proliferation,” “overlap,” and “inefficiency” of sustainability standards, the “confusion” they would create, and the “burden” created by assurance mechanisms that would be “significant, costly, and time-consuming”.

It is worth noting that IRMA has never heard civil society or mine workers complain that “assurance processes are too expensive,” but rather that they see need for increased investment in transparent sharing of information on performance and for improved practices. We hope that Standards Australia will be able to soon provide a breakdown of the responses by stakeholder groups and increase outreach to civil society, Indigenous rights holders, and labor leaders.

IRMA emphasized throughout the workshop the importance of inclusive and meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement for ISO to ensure robustness and credibility in its processes and its efforts to standardize responsible business practice. A number of other participants similarly asked for more proactive and targeted outreach to all stakeholder groups. The issue of inclusive and meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement was then selected by the organizer as the final topic for plenary discussion.

As currently designed, IWA and ISO processes, including IWA 45, are not inclusive for affected communities, NGOs, and organized labor, and do not allow for meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement. We ask that this fundamental gap be identified as the top priority in the final report that will be produced by Standards Australia this year, including as a key recommendation to inform the other ongoing ISO committees and workstreams on responsible mining and sustainable mineral value chains.

 

Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson CCBY2.0

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Amandelbult PGM Complex. Credit: Anglo AmericanAmandelbult PGM Complex. Credit: Anglo AmericanAudits

Audits released for Anglo’s Amandelbult, Mototolo, Unki

Two Anglo American mines are first South African operations audited against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining

Amandelbult and Mototolo achieve IRMA 50 and IRMA 75, respectively
Register for the 27 Feb webinar Q&A to discuss the audits

16 Feb 2024 – Today the Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA) released the audits of Anglo American’s Amandelbult and Mototolo PGM operations against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. Independent audit firm ERM-CVS assessed Amandelbult at IRMA 50 and Mototolo at IRMA 75 when measuring their performance against the Standard’s best practice social and environmental criteria.

IRMA also released the surveillance (interim) audit for Anglo’s Unki PGM operation in Zimbabwe, as conducted by audit firm SCS Global. In 2021, Unki achieved IRMA 75 in IRMA’s first-ever on-site audit; a surveillance audit is a more limited check-in, so it does not result in further detailed scoring but rather provides updates on performance.

IRMA 50 or 75 means that ERM-CVS verified that the operations at least substantially met all 40 critical requirements of the IRMA Standard, as well as at least 50 or 75% of the Standard’s criteria in each of the four principle areas: social responsibility, environmental responsibility, business integrity and planning for positive legacies. The full audit reports are available on the Amandelbult and Mototolo audit pages, as well as Unki’s surveillance report, on the IRMA website.

“The information stakeholders need to decide what’s going well — and what may require more attention.”

“This report demonstrates that mines can point to transparent, independent evaluations of their environmental and social performance,” said Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA. “Through detailed IRMA audit reports, mining companies, communities and companies that purchase mined materials can gain the information they need to decide what’s going well — and what may require more attention — at specific mines.”

As the IRMA Standard is recognized and adopted around the globe, these audits are first steps in a deepening dialogue between mining companies and those affected by their operations. Because the process is still evolving, IRMA cautions that the initial results should be reviewed and interpreted accordingly.

“These mines began audits during the early Covid years. The timeline was delayed by travel challenges, and then the company’s decision to use the optional corrective action period to make improvements. The public has long awaited opportunity to review the information included here, and we applaud Anglo American for volunteering these mines for audit against such comprehensive criteria.” Ms. Boulanger went on to say, “That said, the IRMA Standard is relatively new for companies that volunteer to be audited, and even our accredited auditors are still learning. The same is true for community members and workers who are interviewed as part of the process, some of whom may not yet feel comfortable engaging. So, the Amandelbult and Mototolo audits need to be read with this in mind.”

The report also provides an honest accounting of IRMA’s own progress as the Standard and 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,” Ms. Boulanger said. “We’ll help them communicate with the company to better understand its performance, and with the auditors on any issues they feel were overlooked in the review. This is a cornerstone of our own commitment to transparency. We invite anyone who has criticisms of our work to join us in making it better. Finding ways to improve is built into our system — and a measure of its success.”

The IRMA Standard is being updated in 2024; input on how to improve the IRMA Standard is welcomed. Chapters in the IRMA Standard include requirements on protection to human rights, water resources, worker health and safety, biodiversity, Indigenous free, prior, informed consent and more.

“Committing to an IRMA audit reflects our desire to improve and our openness to dialogue”

Craig Miller, CEO of Anglo American Platinum said, “This significant milestone at Mototolo and Amandelbult mines in our overall adoption of IRMA enables us to promote transparency and best practice in sustainability, while adding value to our global customers by helping them to meet increasing expectations for responsibly mined materials in an efficient and credible way. With Unki mine achieving IRMA 75 in 2021, and now the achievements of Mototolo with IRMA 75 and Amandelbult with IRMA 50, we are continuing to make great progress towards our sustainable mining plan target of having all our mining operations assured against a recognised responsible mining standard by 2025.”

Including Amandelbult, Mototolo and Unki, 19 industrial-scale mines worldwide are within the IRMA independent assessment system. 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. Following the release of the initial audit, a shorter surveillance audit checks on the mine’s performance. Three years after the initial audit, the operation is fully audited again (Note: The first mines audited in the IRMA system have had extensions to this timeline due to Covid delays and launch-phase learning; updated full reviews will be required to maintain or increase achievement scores.)

The independent IRMA system is the only global mining standard that provides equal power to the public sector (communities and Indigenous rights holders, mine workers, and environmental and human rights advocates) alongside the private sector (mining companies, mined materials purchasers and investors).

Learn more at the Feb 27th Webinar Q&A

  • REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/IRMAwebinar-A-M
  • Tuesday, 27 Feb, 4pm South Africa time (UTC+2)
  • Speakers:
    IRMA Executive Director Aimee Boulanger,
    IRMA Africa Regional Lead Davidzo Muchawaya,
    IRMA Assurance Director Michelle Smith, and
    Anglo American Platinum Head of Sustainability Stephen Bullock
  • A discussion and Q&A about the meaning of the audit results, and how the increased transparency an IRMA audit provides can be used by stakeholders to improve the operation.
  • All registrants will receive a recording.

 For More Information:

  • Alan Septoff, +1.301.202.1445, aseptoff@responsiblemining.net
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Barro Alto. Credit: Anglo AmericanBarro Alto. Credit: Anglo AmericanAudits

Audits released for Anglo’s Barro Alto, Minas-Rio

Anglo American’s Barro Alto, Minas-Rio operations in Brazil audited against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining

First nickel, iron mines to complete IRMA audits, both Barro Alto and Minas-Rio achieve IRMA 75

UPDATE 14 Feb: Webinar recording in English and Português added.

IRMA 75 achievement badge

07 Feb 2024 – Today the Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA) released the results of independent audits of Anglo American’s Barro Alto nickel and Minas-Rio iron ore operations against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. The mines achieved IRMA 75 when two independent audit firms measured their performance on concrete social and environmental impact criteria.

IRMA oversees the only independent, comprehensive process for assessing individual mines’ performance against an equally governed, consensus-based standard — and for measuring their subsequent progress in reducing social and environmental harm. The rigorous IRMA process invites all those currently or potentially affected by a mine to share their experiences and perspectives with the auditing team.

The independent IRMA system is the only global mining standard that provides equal power to the public sector (communities and Indigenous rights holders, mine workers, and environmental and human rights advocates) alongside the private sector (mining companies, mined materials purchasers and investors).

Barro Alto and Minas-Rio join 17 other industrial-scale mines worldwide that are independently assessing against the IRMA Standard. 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.

IRMA 75 means the audit firms ERM-CVS (Barro Alto) and SCS Global (Minas-Rio) verified that the operations met all critical requirements of the IRMA Standard, as well as at least 75% of the Standard’s criteria in each of the four areas: social responsibility, environmental responsibility, business integrity and planning for positive legacies. The full audit reports are available in Results tab of the Barro Alto and Minas-Rio audit pages on the IRMA website.

“The information stakeholders need to decide what’s going well — and what may require more attention.”

“This report demonstrates that mines supplying materials essential to the renewable energy transition and the steel supply chain can now point to transparent, independent evaluations of their environmental and social performance,” said Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA. “Through detailed IRMA audit reports, mining companies, communities and companies that purchase mined materials can gain the information they need to decide what’s going well — and what may require more attention — at specific mines.”

As the IRMA Standard is recognized and adopted around the globe, these audits are just the first steps in a deepening dialogue between mining companies and those affected by their operations. And because the process is still evolving, IRMA cautions that the initial results should be reviewed and interpreted accordingly.

“These mines began audits during the early Covid years. The timeline was delayed by travel challenges, and then the company’s decision to use the optional corrective action period to make improvements. The public has long awaited opportunity to review the information included here, and we applaud Anglo American for volunteering the first iron and nickel mines for audit against such comprehensive criteria.” Ms. Boulanger went on to say, “That said, the IRMA Standard is relatively new for companies that volunteer to be audited, and even our accredited auditors are still learning. The same is true for community members and workers who are interviewed as part of the process, some of whom may not yet feel comfortable engaging. So the Barro Alto and Minas-Rio audit reports need to be read with this in mind.”

The report also provides an honest accounting of IRMA’s own progress as the Standard and 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,” Ms. Boulanger said. “We’ll help them communicate with the company to better understand its performance, and with the auditors on any issues they feel were overlooked in the review. This is a cornerstone of our own commitment to transparency. We invite anyone who has criticisms of our work to join us in making it better. Finding ways to improve is built into our system — and a measure of its success.”

The IRMA Standard is being updated in 2024; input on how to improve the IRMA Standard is welcomed. Chapters in the IRMA Standard include requirements on protection to human rights, water resources, worker health and safety, biodiversity, Indigenous free, prior, informed consent and more.

“Committing to an IRMA audit reflects our desire to improve and our openness to dialogue”

Ana Sanches, CEO of Anglo American in Brazil, said: “Anglo American’s achievement of IRMA 75 is a first for a nickel and an iron ore mine and is a testament to the hard work of our teams at Barro Alto and Minas-Rio. Participating in IRMA audits for our operations serve as recognition and proof of our commitment to high standard best practice, transparency and assurance, while it also provides independently verified next steps for further improvement. This transparent positive-feedback loop ensures we continue to improve our sustainability practices, leads to better ways to do business and creates greater value for employees, governments, NGOs, customers and communities alike.

Feb 8th Webinar Q&A – slides

Português – Webinar IRMA sobre relatórios de auditoria de Barro Alto/Minas-Rio

English – IRMA webinar re Barro Alto/Minas-Rio audit reports

 For More Information:

 

 

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