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Why we work for IRMA

At the end of October, the IRMA Secretariat had our first in-person annual planning retreat since the onset of the COVID pandemic. At the retreat’s opening, those in attendance shared with one another why we work for IRMA. Below we share those reasons with you.

“Industrialized societies used mined materials every day but most people don’t know much about mining, the places these materials come from, and the impacts of extraction. Among the people who know the issues well, there is deeply broken trust between companies and affected communities. It’s meaningful to work with diverse stakeholders and indigenous rights holders committed to addressing these issues in a respectful way and working together to reduce harm.” — Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director

“I work for IRMA because in a time of peak political will to improve environmental and social performance in the mining sector, the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining provides a detailed roadmap informed by over a decade of input across sectors. The IRMA Standard is an excellent tool for assessing and improving legal frameworks as well as mine site performance, promoting the level of protections and transparency so greatly needed in this era of energy transition.” — Kristi Disney Bruckner, Senior Policy Advisor

“Since the beginning of my career, I have believed business—when managed responsibly—can have substantial, positive impacts in the places it operates, from source point to end consumer. IRMA provides a clear path for companies along the mineral value chain to perform at a higher level and align with the expectations of customers and civil society alike.” — Rebecca Burton, Director of Corporate Engagement

“The IRMA Standards have the potential to bridge the gaps between mining policies and the demands of various stakeholders impacted by resource extraction. As a part of the IRMA Secretariat, I have the unique opportunity to work together with some of the most passionate people to reach the full potential of the IRMA mission and vision in a manner that gives an equal voice to all stakeholders.” — Adan Olivares Castro, Special Projects Coordinator for Latin America

“As traditional means of protecting communities and the environment are increasingly hamstrung by bad faith actors, I believe that IRMA is the best way to help the most people and the ecosystems we all rely upon by encouraging mining companies to operate more responsibly — and showing them how.” — Alan Septoff, Information Systems & Communications Director

“We live in a world that requires metals to address today’s needs and provide solutions for tomorrow. I am inspired every day to have the opportunity to support a holistic and honest assessment of the impact of mining on people and the planet, and I am humbled with the opportunity to set expectations for best practice mining that honors the diverse interests and rights of stakeholders.” — Michelle Smith, Director of Standards & Assurance

“As the demand for mined materials and natural resources increase, the IRMA team is navigating a better way for the mining industry and finding solutions for best practices which includes the critical work of reducing impacts and harm to affected communities and the environment. This is approached with great passion, intelligence and respect for all our stakeholders, and I am proud to be part of making such meaningful and positive changes for the world.” — Kristen Vissers, Program Coordinator

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Guidance signAudits

Updated financial assurance guidance

In response to practical difficulties obtaining financial surety for mine closure and post closure as defined by the IRMA Standard, IRMA has modified 2.6.4.1 which is a critical requirement in the IRMA standard and must be substantially or fully met in order to achieve IRMA 50 or higher.

With this modification, the requirement for “financial surety instruments” — which by definition exclude corporate guarantees and self-bonding — is replaced with “financial assurance mechanisms.” This allows a broader range of acceptable means to guarantee the costs associated with third-part mine closure and post-closure.

The IRMA Secretariat made this change with the concurrence of the IRMA Board and external expert feedback. This is a temporary adaptation that will be reconsidered in the planned revision of the IRMA Standard expected in late 2023.

The background and challenges for this temporary modification and our plan going forward are presented in this guidance document, along with specific details on how this modification is to be interpreted by mine sites, independent auditors, and other interested stakeholders.

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Livent Fenix Lithium Mine. Credit: LiventAudits

Onsite audit for Livent Fenix Lithium Mine coming soon

This announcement was posted by SCS Global Services in local press and the community 30 days in advance of the on-site audit as required by the IRMA Assessment process.

  IRMA logo

On-site, independent audit under the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining
Livent Fenix Lithium Mine, Salar del Hombre Muerto, Catamarca, Argentina

Between November 28 and December 2, 2022, SCS Global Services (SCS) will commence an independent audit of Livent’s Fenix lithium operation to evaluate its performance under the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) Standard for Responsible Mining.  IRMA is a voluntary assessment system that provides a set of best practice standards and participatory stakeholder engagement requirements created to improve mining operations’ environmental and social performance. Livent (NYSE: LTHM) is an IRMA member.

The third-party, independent audit provides stakeholders, including community members, workers, organized labor, government representatives, and other interested parties, the opportunity to give feedback on the mine’s environmental, health, safety, and community performance.  SCS will use stakeholder comments to help determine how the Livent Fenix operation performs relative to the IRMA Standard.

Stakeholders are invited to submit written comments to coincide with the on-site audit.  Stakeholders may also contact SCS if they would like to be interviewed.  Interviews will take place virtually (telephone or videoconference) or in person, considering Covid-19 precautions.  Stakeholder comments, questions, and interview requests can be made through the link below; commenters’ identities and remarks are kept confidential upon request.

Link:   https://info.scsglobalservices.com/irmafeedback

Upon completion of the Livent Fenix audit, IRMA will publish the independent audit results and present an overall achievement score: IRMA Transparency, IRMA 50, IRMA 75, or IRMA 100.  Only mines achieving IRMA 100 are “certified” under the IRMA Standard.

SCS is an IRMA-approved certification body with head offices in Emeryville, California.  For more information about SCS, please visit www.scsglobalservices.com.

The IRMA Standard is the world’s most comprehensive mining standard for industrial-scale mines and the only one equally governed by all stakeholders: mining companies, mineral purchasers, investors, organized labor, communities, and civil society NGOs. Mine site verification under the IRMA Standard is voluntary.   For more information on the IRMA Standard requirements and certification, visit www.responsiblemining.net.

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Livent Fenix Lithium Mine. Credit: LiventAudits

Auditoría independiente in situ según la Norma IRMA para la Minería Responsable Mina de litio de Livent en Fénix

Este anuncio fue publicado por SCS Global Services en la prensa local y en la comunidad 30 días antes de la auditoría in situ según lo exige el proceso de evaluación de IRMA.

  IRMA logo

Auditoría independiente in situ según la Norma IRMA para la Minería Responsable
Mina de litio de Livent en Fénix, Salar del Hombre Muerto, Catamarca, Argentina

Entre el 28 de noviembre y el 2 de diciembre de 2022, SCS Global Services (SCS) iniciará una auditoría independiente de la operación de litio Fénix de Livent para evaluar su desempeño según el Estándar para la Minería Responsable de la Iniciativa para el Aseguramiento de la Minería Responsable (IRMA). IRMA es un sistema de evaluación voluntaria que proporciona un conjunto de normas de mejores prácticas y requisitos de participación de las partes interesadas creados para mejorar el desempeño ambiental y social de las operaciones mineras. Livent (NYSE: LTHM) es miembro de IRMA.

La auditoría independiente de terceros ofrece a las partes interesadas, incluidos los miembros de la comunidad, los trabajadores, los sindicatos, los representantes del gobierno y otras partes interesadas, la oportunidad de dar su opinión sobre el desempeño ambiental, de salud, de seguridad y de la comunidad de la mina. SCS utilizará los comentarios de las partes interesadas para ayudar a determinar el rendimiento de la operación de Livent en Fénix en relación con la norma IRMA.
Se invita a las partes interesadas a presentar comentarios por escrito coincidiendo con la auditoría in situ. Las partes interesadas también pueden ponerse en contacto con el SCS si desean ser entrevistadas. Las entrevistas tendrán lugar de forma virtual (teléfono o videoconferencia) o en persona, teniendo en cuenta las precauciones de Covid-19. Los comentarios, las preguntas y las solicitudes de entrevista de las partes interesadas pueden hacerse a través del enlace que figura a continuación; la identidad y las observaciones de los comentaristas se mantendrán confidenciales si así se solicita.
Enlace:   https://info.scsglobalservices.com/irmacomentarios

Una vez finalizada la auditoría de Livent en Fénix, IRMA publicará los resultados de la auditoría independiente y presentará una puntuación global de logro: Transparencia IRMA, IRMA 50, IRMA 75 o IRMA 100. Sólo las minas que alcanzan el nivel IRMA 100 están “certificadas” por la norma IRMA.

SCS es un organismo de certificación aprobado por IRMA con sede en Emeryville, California. Para más información sobre SCS, visite www.scsglobalservices.com.

Acerca de IRMA
La Norma IRMA es la norma minera más completa del mundo para las minas a escala industrial y la única que se rige por igual por todas las partes interesadas: empresas mineras, compradores de minerales, inversores, trabajadores organizados, comunidades y ONG de la sociedad civil. La verificación de los emplazamientos mineros según la Norma IRMA es voluntaria. Para obtener más información sobre los requisitos y la certificación de la Norma IRMA, visite www.responsiblemining.net.

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Flag of IndonesiaBlog

Engaging Indonesia

At the invitation of Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, IRMA participated in a series of meetings held September 5-9 in Jakarta to introduce the IRMA Standard and system to a wide range of sectors with interest in mineral development and processing. Represented by Senior Policy Advisor Kristi Disney Bruckner, the meetings occurred following requests from members of IRMA’s Buyers Group for engagement in Indonesia, calling on mine sites to complete independent, third-party audits.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, EITI Indonesia, Eramet, and others collaborated to host a full-day Introducing the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) to Indonesian Mining Companies forum on September 6th. Over 140 participants attended the event, including representatives of more than 25 companies with experience in nickel, aluminum, steel, coal, and other sectors. Participants also included representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Environment and Forestry, Finance, and Investment; the National Standardization Agency; state-owned enterprises; French and U.S. Embassies; and NGOs Publish What You Pay, Action for Ecology and People Emancipation (AEER), and others; media; consultants; academics; investors; and purchasing companies. Speakers at the event included representatives of Eramet, IRMA, the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs, the EITI Secretariat, and Ørsted.

Screenshot of Forum: Introducing the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)

IRMA participated in a separate NGO Roundtable on September 7th, attended by Publish What You Pay, Keanekaragaman Hayati (Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation), Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (Indonesian Nature Conservation Foundation, YKAN), Auriga Nusantara, World Resources Indonesia, Peduli Konservasi Alam (Movement for Nature Conservation, PEKI), Konservasi Indonesia (Conservation Indonesia), Wetlands International Indonesia, and AEER.

IRMA also held ad hoc meetings throughout the week with representatives of NGOs, government, and companies.

Indonesia is a major producer of nickel and other materials needed for EVs and is key to the energy transition. The recent history of mining in Indonesia includes environmental harm and human rights violations, particularly in Papua Province. Addressing those harms, preventing future harm, and ensuring equitable distribution of benefits requires responsible management of the mining sector. 

The Indonesian government’s invitation and its completion of a gap analysis between the country’s legal framework and the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining signal recognition of the IRMA Standard as a model to capture the increasing market value of environmental and social responsibility. IRMA is a tool available to all Indonesian stakeholders–government, NGOs, affected communities, organized labor, mining companies, purchasing companies, and investors–to promote more responsible environmental and social management in the mining sector. IRMA’s engagement in Indonesia supports efforts to improve governance of the mining sector and bring Indonesian mines into  IRMA’s independent, third-party audit and transparent reporting process. These steps can promote good governance from national to mine site levels, benefitting diverse stakeholders and rights holders in Indonesia.

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IRMA 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
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Lonely 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.

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Zortman-Landusky mine complexBlog

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.

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Carrizal home pageBlog

Carrizal Mine Surveillance Assessment Update

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is pleased to announce the upcoming third-party independent surveillance assessment of the Carrizal Mine against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. The Carrizal Mine is located near Zimapan in the Hidalgo province of Mexico. The on-site portion of the surveillance audit will occur 24-27 August 2022.

What is a Surveillance Audit?

A surveillance audit is a mid-cycle verification to ensure no material negative changes have occurred at a site. It is not a re-assessment of all IRMA requirements. Surveillance audits follow much of the same process as a certification audit and include document review, on site-assessment, and community and stakeholder engagement. An IRMA surveillance audit confirms continued performance against critical requirements, verifies ongoing regulatory compliance processes, and evaluates progress on corrective actions. It also follows up on stakeholder input received since the prior audit and areas of risk identified in the previous audit and confirms no major changes have occurred that would impact the previously assessed achievement level.

ERM CVS is the IRMA-approved certification body carrying out the surveillance assessment.

Stakeholder Engagement in the Assessment

Interested stakeholders and members of the public can sign up to receive updates about the Carrizal mine assessment. 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 ERM CVS on the social and environmental performance of the Carrizal Mine (in particular, how the mine measures against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining).

Carrizal Mine stakeholders may also contact ERM CVS if they are interested in being interviewed as part of the assessment process or being notified of the publication of the public report.

Stakeholder comments and expressions of interest in being interviewed as part of the audit process should be submitted by email to post@ermcvs.com.

Email: visit the ERM CVS website for this information and more on the audit.

Please forward this announcement, and feel free to contact ERM CVS directly to provide names and contact information for other mine site stakeholders who may be interested in knowing about and participating in the mine site assessment process.

For more information

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Blog

IRMA Mining Engagement Update – Aug 2022

As of August 2022, 62 mining companies are now engaged in IRMA representing 74 sites:

  • 62 sites are self-assessing under the IRMA Standard, the first step before an independent audit;
  • 11 sites are piloting the draft IRMA exploration (IRMA Ready) or mineral processing standard self-assessments
  • 2 independent audit reports have been released — Anglo American’s Unki mine in Zimbabwe, and Carrizal’s Zimapán mine in Mexico;
  • 11 audits are under way — 9 initial audits (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Africa), and 2 surveillance audits (Mexico, Zimbabwe)
  • They are located in 23 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. New Caledonia
    15. Panama
    16. Philippines
    17. Russia
    18. South Africa
    19. Spain
    20. Sri Lanka
    21. Ukraine
    22. United States
    23. Zimbabwe
  • They encompass 27 minerals:
    1. Aggregate
    2. Barite
    3. Bastnaesite
    4. Chrome
    5. Cobalt
    6. Copper
    7. Clay
    8. Diamonds
    9. Gold
    10. Graphite
    11. Iron
    12. Lead
    13. Limestone
    14. Lithium
    15. Magnesium
    16. Mineral sands
    17. Nickel
    18. Palladium
    19. Platinum
    20. Rhodium
    21. Sand
    22. Silver
    23. Strontium
    24. Titanium
    25. Vanadium
    26. Zinc
    27. Zirconium
    28. Rare Earth elements
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