Standards

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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Unki on-site audit discussion. Credit: IRMAUnki on-site audit discussion. Credit: IRMAStandards

Recording of the IRMA Deep Dive for Mining Companies

Thursday, December 14th, IRMA hosted a dedicated webinar for mining companies to learn more about the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. It was simultaneously interpreted in Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Indonesian, French, and Chinese.

Given our service to multiple sectors, we’re aware investors and companies who purchase mined materials are increasingly asking for mines to be independently assessed in IRMA system. Just as we seek to provide value to these sectors, as well as civil society, communities and labor unions, we’re equally committed to serving the mining sector.

The webinar was an open and candid discussion between representatives of mining companies that have been IRMA-audited, purchasing companies engaged in IRMA, and the key IRMA Secretariat staff who are dedicated to serving the mining sector. It highlighted the tools and training we’re developing to help mining companies better understand the standard and our assessment process. It also addressed common questions, hesitations, doubts and even frustrations, all with the aim of ensuring IRMA is responsive and useful to the mining sector.

The slides (English-only) are here. The webinars are available on our youtube channel and embedded below in Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Indonesian, French, English and Chinese.

Spanish

Russian

Portuguese

Indonesian

French

English

Chinese

NOTE: At one point both interpreters talk simultaneously for a few minutes.

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Unki on-site audit discussion. Credit: IRMAUnki on-site audit discussion. Credit: IRMAStandards

IRMA: a deep dive session for mining companies

On Thursday, December 14th, IRMA is hosting a dedicated webinar for mining companies to learn more about the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance.

Given our service to multiple sectors, we’re aware investors and companies who purchase mined materials are increasingly asking for mines to be independently assessed in IRMA system. Just as we seek to provide value to these sectors, as well as civil society, communities and labor unions, we’re equally committed to serving the mining sector.

This will be an open and candid discussion between mining company representatives, purchasing companies engaged in IRMA, and the key IRMA Secretariat staff who are dedicated to serving the mining sector. In particular, we’ll highlight the tools and training we’re developing to help mining companies better understand the standard and our assessment process.

We’ll also address common questions, hesitations, doubts and even frustrations, all with the aim of ensuring IRMA is responsive and useful to the mining sector.

Our draft agenda is as follows:

  • An introduction to IRMA, including addressing some of the most common questions we receive from mining companies
  • Short presentations from representatives from purchasing and finance, sharing their motivations for participating
  • Insights from mining companies who have undertaken third-party assessments, sharing their experience and learnings
  • A Q&A session with attendees

Register here for the session, taking place from 10:30AM – 12PM Eastern on December 14th. In case you’re not able to make this date, please register in any case, as a recording will be shared.

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Cover of IRMA Draft Standard 2.0 Proposed Normative Requirements for Exploration, Development and Mineral ProcessingCover of IRMA Draft Standard 2.0 Proposed Normative Requirements for Exploration, Development and Mineral ProcessingStandards

Std 2.0 and Exploration, Development & Processing

The IRMA Draft Standard for Responsible Mining and Mineral Processing 2.0 incorporates the draft IRMA Standard for Responsible Mineral Development and Exploration (the ‘IRMA-Ready’ Standard – Draft v1.0 December 2021), the draft IRMA Standard for Responsible Minerals Processing (Draft v1.0 June 2021), and the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining 1.0 (2018) into one integrated standard that covers all phases and types of mineral development activities.

The 2023 proposed revisions for version 2.0 are meant to apply at any phase of the mineral development life cycle (e.g., exploration, project development, permitting, construction, mining and processing operations, reclamation and closure, post-closure).

To highlight and clarify those additions, we have released a summary of the draft Normative Requirements for those phases — where IRMA requirements are modified to govern stages of exploration, development or mineral processing.  The IRMA Draft Standard 2.0 Normative Requirements for each chapter are provided and discussed in Appendix A.

In the context of this guidance document, a normative requirement modifies a given IRMA requirement from the IRMA DRAFT Standard 2.0 for a specific phase, by either replacing or  supplementing the original text of this requirement. We use the terminology “normative requirements” here since they modify the elements that would actually be required and that auditors would measure against, not just guidance that helps to enrich or guide understanding of those requirements.

These Normative Requirements are part of the Draft Standard 2.0, so just as with the rest of the draft Standard, they are proposed and open for public comment until January 26, 2024.

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Blog

Topic consultations for draft Standard 2.0

Over the next two months IRMA is hosting live, virtual consultations to discuss and comment on different topics covered by the Draft Standard for Responsible Mining and Mineral Processing 2.0. Facilitated by the IRMA Secretariat, these virtual meetings share what you need to know about the proposed changes and/or new areas in a specific topic inside the Standard (download or view specific chapters here). They will ask some guided questions where IRMA especially seeks feedback. And we encourage all comments — these Zoom sessions are meant to be inclusive and collaborative spaces for such discussion.

All consultations will be in English and last for 60 minutes. Registration is required, all times are UTC-0. Please register through the links provided below for any topics you might be interested in. NOTE: all consultations below are for the Standard for Responsible Mining and Mineral Processing. Visit the Chain of Custody Standard page for those webinars.

2023 2024
07 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Water Management
10 January 09:00-10:00 – Recording
Sector-specific: Mineral Processing
08 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Equality & Gender Protections
10 January 17:00-18:00 – Recording
Sector-specific: Exploration and Development
11 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Occupational Health & Safety
11 January 16:00-17:00 – Recording
Sector-specific: Mining Companies
11 December 16:00-17:00 – Recording
Waste & Materials Mgmnt (incl. tailings)
12 January 07:00-08:00
Water Management
12 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
GHG Emissions & Energy Consumption
12 January 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Land & Soil Management
12 December 16:00-17:00 – Recording
Indigenous Peoples & FPIC
15 January 07:00-08:00 – Recording
Occupational Health & Safety
13 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Mngmnt of Physical Stability (incl. tailings)
16 January 07:00-08:00 – Recording
Waste and Materials Management (including tailings)
14 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Planning, Financing Reclamation and Closure
18 January 07:00-08:00 – Recording
Management of Physical Stability (including tailings)
18 December 14:00-15:00 – Recording
Land Acquisition, Displacement, and Resettlement
19 January 07:00-08:00 – Recording
GHG Emissions & Energy Consumption
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