Complaints and the IRMA System

This week IRMA posted the first complaints being processed through the IRMA Issues Resolution System. One (IRMA-2024-001) filed by the SIRGE Coalition (Securing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights In The Green Economy), and another (IRMA-2024-002) by the environmental advocacy NGO (and IRMA Board Member) Earthworks, both complaints question how the audit firm ERM CVS assessed the conformity of Albemarle’s Salar de Atacama lithium operation in northern Chile with IRMA’s Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) requirements, and how evidence was weighed and assessed in reaching audit findings.

Although the larger goal is to make mining more responsible – overall and particularly at IRMA audited mines – the means to do that is by providing unprecedented transparency to all stakeholders so that they can open dialogues that incentivize better operational practices. These complaints are exactly that: stakeholders using the information provided by IRMA audits to examine a mine’s practices and ask why they were measured as they were.

It’s important to note that all actors directly or indirectly associated with these complaints are learning how to do their work better. Although the IRMA Standard has been around since 2018, the Albemarle operation was the first lithium operation audited against the Standard, and just the third mine audited overall. The audit firm, the mining company, and IRMA itself are learning how to the IRMA system works in practice and how we can improve it.

In the near future, IRMA and the audit firm will meet, after which point we will get back to the complainants with next steps. As we process these complaints we will update their pages to keep stakeholders current about how the Issues Resolution System is working, and to allow the opportunity for all concerned to keep IRMA true to our core principles.