Standard 2.0 online comments

Welcome to the online commenting form for the DRAFT Standard for Responsible Mining and Mineral Processing 2.0. Commenting on the draft is open until 26 January 2024.

To start commenting enter the required fields on the Get Started tab and click Proceed. For assistance with this form visit the Support tab. Visit the main Standard 2.0 page to learn more about the Standard and other ways to comment.

Support

To use the form

  1. At the Get Started tab, enter required fields and click Proceed.
  2. Use the tabs at left to select the desired chapter.
  3. Each chapter is divided by section. Click the + at the right of each section title to view and comment on the section’s requirements.
  4. Each requirement has a number (e.g. 1.1.1.1) with a commenting box directly beneath. The requirement text is directly beneath the commenting box.
  5. Chapters, sections, and requirements can have Notes and/or Consulting Questions marked in yellow.
  6. Where there is a Consulting Question, please answer it in the commenting box directly beneath it.
  7. You submit all of your comments on one chapter simultaneously by going to the bottom of the page and clicking “Submit comments for Chapter X.X”. To ensure that your comments are submitted, please do not close your browser or refresh the page until you see the confirmation message.
  8. You will receive an email acknowledgment after submitting comments.
  9. For general comments or comments that span multiple requirements, you may use the General Comments tab at bottom left.

Other considerations

IMPORTANT: refreshing your browser or using the “back” function will reset your session and require you to enter your personal information again

For the comment form to work you must have javascript enabled.

This comment form includes all requirements and consultation questions. Unlike the full DRAFT Standard document, it does not include:

  • Background sections
  • Glossary sections, or
  • Annexes of the DRAFT Standard.

Other ways to comment

  • To submit your comments as a PDF, click the General Comments tab near the bottom of the page.
  • For other ways to comment visit our main Standard 2.0 page and open the How to Comment section.

More information

Chapter 1.1: Legal Compliance

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  Changes have been made to improve auditability, and to streamline requirements (by combining them). 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • Requirement to have a system in place to identify and track compliance (1.1.1.1)
  • More details on contractor compliance (1.1.3.1)
  • Addition that the provision of regulatory compliance information to stakeholders be included in a policy (1.1.4.2)

1.1.1: Compliance with Host Country Laws

A system is in place to:
  1. Identify and document all host country laws (including local, regional, and national regulations, permits, permit conditions, and licenses) that are applicable to the project/operation, including associated facilities;
  2. Identify and document all regulatory reporting and payment obligations (e.g., taxes, fees);
  3. Identify and document all regulatory and legal actions related to the project/operation including fines, penalties, notices of violation, legal disputes or lawsuits; and
  4. Monitor and document the status of compliance with host country laws, reporting obligations and legal actions.

NOTE FOR 1.1.1.1:  NEW and integrates requirement 1.1.5.1 from 2018 Mining Standard.

We are proposing to add this requirement to make it clear that entities are responsible for demonstrating that they have systems in place to know their legal obligations and track if they are maintaining compliance with those obligations. It integrates the previous requirement 1.1.5.1. “The operating company shall maintain records and documentation sufficient to authenticate and demonstrate compliance and/or non-compliance with host country laws and the IRMA Standard” since such record-keeping is part of maintaining a compliance monitoring system.

Business is conducted in a manner that complies with all applicable host country laws and protects human rights, health, safety, and the environment. In the rare instances where complying with an IRMA requirement would cause a breach of host country law, the entity meets the intent of the IRMA requirement to the extent feasible without violating the law.

NOTE FOR 1.1.1.2:  This requirement combines 1.1.1.1 and 1.1.2.1 from the 2018 Mining Standard. This was a critical requirement in the 2018 Standard (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

This requirement makes it clear that legal compliance is expected both related to running the business (such as required financial filings, tax payments and reporting to the government) as well as carrying out the physical activities of the operation itself (environmental, land-use permissions, occupational health and safety, labor, human rights, social, etc.). 

While adherence to laws should be a fundamental expectation of any business anywhere, we also recognize that large industrial mining and mineral processing operations are complex and subject to a large number of laws, regulations and permits. As a result, most mines and mineral processing facilities are likely to experience non-compliance with regulatory requirements at some point in time (e.g., failure to renew permits on time, or occasional exceedances of permit conditions for air or water quality). There will be some non-compliance issues that do not pose a significant threat, to health, safety, or the environment. 

Thus, we have added that in addition to carrying out business in a manner that complies with host country law, entities also do so in a manner that protects human rights, health, safety and the environment. We added the latter language because we wanted to provide auditors with a way to distinguish between major and minor non-compliance issues.  

The intent of this requirement is not to “fail” sites that have minor non-compliance issues. As a result, we are proposing that we clarify in the guidance that the rating of a site’s performance on this requirement will depend on factors such as: 1) the number of non-compliance issues, 2) whether or not the non-compliance issues are serious (e.g., pose an imminent or acute threat to human rights, health and safety or the environment); 3) whether a breach of laws was intentional or accidental (e.g., the non-compliance was due to unplanned human error or malfunction, not due to operational decisions such as a decision to keep mining even though the treatment plant was down for maintenance).

Additionally, 1.1.1.2 now includes the information on what IRMA expects to see if in the rare instances where an IRMA requirement comes in conflict with a host country law. The IRMA Standard is a voluntary, best practice standard, so requirements in the Standard will go beyond the law in many countries, but in most cases, going beyond the law will not cause an entity to violate the laws of the host country. However, there may be isolated instances where this is the case, and if so, IRMA cannot require companies to break the law in order to meet its voluntary expectations.  For example, if there are laws that strictly prohibit women from doing certain types of work, then that would be taken into account when the IRMA requirement related to equal opportunity is audited (in Chapter 3.1, requirement 3.1.2.1). However, an entity would need to show that it was still meeting the intent of the requirement (e.g., the entity could show that for jobs that women are legally permitted to do, they are given equal opportunity in hiring processes and/or the entity actively promotes these jobs for women since certain other jobs are not legally available to them).

1.1.2: Response to Non-Compliance

If non-compliance with a host country law occurs:
  1. Timely and effective action is taken to resolve the non-compliance;
  2. Root cause analysis for the non-compliance is undertaken; and
  3. Measures are implemented to prevent recurrence of similar non-compliances.

NOTE FOR 1.1.2.1:  REVISED. This was 1.1.3.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Originally all expectations were contained in a single paragraph. We have separated them out into their components so that it is clear that all elements need to be met in order to fully meet this requirement.

Additionally, we have added sub-requirement (b), that the root causes of the non-compliance be identified, as this would be a typical step an entity would take to understand how recurrence might be prevented. 

The entity’s ratings on this requirement will take into consideration how quickly recent non-compliance 

1.1.3: Contractor Compliance

NOTE FOR 1.1.3:  REVISED. See note for 1.1.3.1, below.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.1-1

Background:  We have received suggestions from stakeholders that IRMA include requirements that help incentivize the use and/or strengthening of local or in-country technical capacity. The hiring of people with local, regional and/or traditional knowledge not only benefits host countries, but can also help entities build trust with stakeholders. 

We are aware, however, that in some regions there may not always be a sufficient cadre of local consultants or contractors with the expertise and experience needed to carry out the often complex and highly technical work involved in large scale mining and/or mineral processing operations. 

In thinking about balancing these realities, we were considering a requirement such as:

“Efforts are made to hire appropriately qualified contractors and consultants that are based in the host country. If there are no in-country professionals with the necessary competency or experience, the entity investigates opportunities to support capacity building for local professionals.

Capacity building could involve mentoring programs, such as hiring local professionals who don’t have the necessary years of experience as part of a crew, where they could gain experience that could eventually put them in a position to take on contracts in the future, etc.

Question:  Would you support this type of requirement? Are there other elements IRMA should consider related to this topic? Do you have suggestions of other ways (or better ways) that entities might support the building of local or in-country technical capacity?

A system is in place to manage contractor compliance with host country laws and IRMA Standard requirements, including:
  1. Maintaining documentation on all contractors associated with the project/operation and associated facilities;
  2. Verifying the competency, skills and capacity of all external contractors and consultants being hired to carry out work on the entity’s behalf. This due diligence includes:
    1. Validation of necessary level of education;
    2. Validation of relevant professional training and certifications;
    3. Review of previous relevant work, including references from previous clients; and
    4. Determination of skills and experience in the context of the work to be undertaken.
  3. Informing contractors that compliance with host country laws and relevant IRMA Standard requirements is expected, and, as necessary, providing them with the information and training necessary to meet that obligation;
  4. Monitoring contractor performance; and
  5. When non-compliance with host country laws or applicable requirements of the IRMA Standard by contractors is discovered, working with the contractor to achieve timely resolution of the non-compliance and prevent recurrence of similar non-compliances.

NOTE FOR 1.1.3.1:  REVISED. This was 1.1.4.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. There was a similar requirement in the 2018 Mining Standard outlining that it was the entity’s obligation to ensure that all activities related to the project/operation are carried out in a responsible manner, and, if contractors are hired to carry out work for the entity, then they must be held to the same high standards as the entity and its direct employees.

However, that previous requirement was very general, and as a result, it made it difficult to audit.

We are proposing here that explicit steps be taken with regard to contractor performance relative to both host country laws and IRMA’s requirements. To make this a more auditable requirement we propose that:

  • 1.1.3.1.a – entities provide evidence that they have adequate documentation on their contractors (and the contractors’ employees/subcontractors)
  • 1.1.3.1.b – there is a process implemented to verify competency. There are multiple chapters in the IRMA Standard that refer to the need for competent professionals to carry out work. In most cases, IRMA does not specify whether these are internal or external professionals. It could be a consulting firm hired to carry out the environmental and social impact assessment, or contractors hired to carry out tailings dam safety reviews, or entity employees responsible for water monitoring programs. 
  • 1.1.3.1.c – convey to contractors the expectation that they must obey the law and adhere to relevant IRMA Standards (e.g., if contractors are hired to carry out work on behalf of or at the behest of the entity then they must be held to the same high standards as the entity and its direct employees).
  • 1.1.3.1.c – the entity performs some oversight activities to know if the contractors are meeting legal and IRMA-related obligations.  
  • 1.1.3.1.e – Finally, if compliance is not occurring, then there needs to be consequences. We are proposing that there be evidence that steps are being taken to either facilitate compliance (e.g., training on the IRMA Standard or host country laws) or, if there is a serious enough breach, perhaps the termination of contracts.

This is something that is being done by some entities already. For example, expectations are being written into contracts to ensure that contractor work is not commenced all required plans, processes and procedures to adhere to the expectations are developed, or entities are creating manuals that outline in detail the obligations of contractors. Contracts also contain reporting expectations for contractors, and the entities themselves conduct oversight of contractor compliance.

There are proposed additional requirements that relate to contractors in some individual chapters, as well. For example, see requirement 3.2.1.3 in 3.2 ‘Occupational Health and Safety.’ And see CONSULTATION QUESTION 3.1-1 in Chapter 3.1. However, if contractors are used in relation to the work to support any other IRMA chapters, then this requirement would also be relevant in those chapters.

1.1.4: Disclosure

NOTE FOR 1.1.4:  This criterion was 1.1.5 ‘Record-Keeping and Disclosure’ in the 2018 Mining Standard, and the first requirement in the criterion (1.1.5.1) said, “The operating company shall maintain records and documentation sufficient to authenticate and demonstrate compliance and/or non-compliance with host country laws and the IRMA Standard.”

The aspect of the requirement to related to record-keeping for authentication of compliance with host country laws is now integrated into the new 1.1.1.1, above. However, the concept of maintaining documentation to demonstrate compliance with IRMA requirements has been removed. Maintaining evidence of conformance with IRMA requirements is simply part of the IRMA system, since auditors need evidence in order to verify that IRMA requirements are being met.

Upon request, records and documents related to compliance and/or non-compliance with host country laws, including descriptions of non-compliance events, ongoing and final remedies, and prevention strategies, are made available to IRMA auditors, subject to the following:
  1. Where the entity claims that records or documentation contain confidential business information:
    1. Auditors are provided with a general description of the confidential material and an explanation of the reasons for classifying the information as confidential; and
    2. If a part of a document is confidential, only the confidential part is redacted, allowing for the release of non-confidential information to auditors.
  2. Where records or documents associated with the project/operation are related to a pending legal action, the existence of the legal action and the alleged regulatory non-compliance issues are disclosed, but detailed information may be treated as confidential business information.

NOTE FOR 1.1.4.1:  This requirement combines 1.1.5.2 and 1.1.5.4 from the 2018 Mining Standard. 

Also, a clarification (1.1.4.1.b) has been added to make it clear that detailed information related to pending legal actions need not be disclosed, but the existence of such actions does need to be shared with auditors. 

A publicly available policy (or equivalent) is in place that commits the entity to providing stakeholders, upon request, with a summary of the project/operation’s regulatory non-compliance issues, subject to the following:
  1. Where the entity claims that non-compliance records or documents contain confidential business information, only the confidential part is redacted, allowing for the release of non-confidential information; and
  2. Where records or documents associated with the project/operation are related to a pending legal action, the existence of the legal action and the alleged regulatory non-compliance issues are disclosed, but detailed information may be treated as confidential business information.

NOTE FOR 1.1.4.2:  REVISED. This requirement combines 1.1.5.3 and 1.1.5.4 from the 2018 Mining Standard. 

There are two changes to this requirement. First, the original wording in the 2018 Mining Standard made the requirement very difficult to audit because it was only relevant if stakeholders requested such information. If no requests had been made then unless the company had an “access to information” or similar policy all that the auditor had to go on was the company representative’s word that if requested, stakeholders would be provided with the requested information. The proposed wording addresses that by requiring the company to have a publicly available policy (or equivalent) – which could be a procedure or other documented commitment in writing that is publicly available – so that stakeholders know (and auditors can verify) that there is a mechanism for providing this information, if requested.

A proposed new requirement in Chapter 1.2 specifically requires an access to information (or similar) policy, which would presumably be the primary policy where the commitment to provide regulatory non-compliance information would be made. (See Note for requirement 1.2.4.3)

Second, the previous requirement 1.1.5.3 said “Upon request, operating companies shall provide stakeholders with a summary of the mining project’s regulatory non-compliance issues that are publicly available.” The phrase “that are publicly available” was meant to convey that only those non-compliance events that were already in the public domain (i.e., not alleged regulatory violations that were subject to legal challenges) had to be disclosed to stakeholders. The wording/intent was not well understood by auditors or mining companies so we have removed it. Instead, we have added 1.1.4.2.b, which says that details of pending legal actions do not need to be made public, but if requested the entity would furnish some information about alleged regulatory violations that are subject to legal actions. This is based on the fact that laws in various countries already require that information on various legal issues be disclosed publicly.

Chapter 1.2: Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  There are several proposed revisions in wording to improve clarity and numerous places where similar concepts have been combined. 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • The most notable proposed change to this chapter is a requirement that entities have an “access to information” policy (or something similar), to make it clear to stakeholders that they can request and obtain information on the environmental and social performance of the operation. The 2018 Mining Standard included multiple requirements where the entity needed to provide information “upon request”, but those requirements were difficult to audit. See more discussion in the Note for requirement 1.2.4.3.
  • There are several requirements where new content has been added. In 1.2.1.1, the previous requirement has expanded beyond merely identifying stakeholders to also carrying out mapping and analyses of stakeholders), in 1.2.1.2 more detail was added regarding what should be in a stakeholder engagement plan, to enable more consistency in auditing those plans, and an analysis of gender roles and dynamics was added in 1.2.1.1.d.
  • One other notable change is that a requirement related to cultural awareness and sensitivity training was moved to this chapter from Chapter 3.7 – ‘Cultural Heritage.’

1.2.1: Planning and Designing Stakeholder Engagement Processes

NOTE FOR 1.2.1:  Removed requirement (1.2.1.4) from this criterion. It has been integrated into 1.2.1.1. See Note for 1.2.1.1, below.

Stakeholder mapping and analysis:
  1. Identifies the range of groups and individuals, including community members, rights holders, and others (hereafter referred to collectively as “stakeholders”) who are or may be affected by or interested in the project/operation, including those who may be opposed to the project/operation;
  2. Identifies potentially marginalized or vulnerable groups for whom special outreach may be necessary;
  3. Analyzes the relative interests and influence of each stakeholder/stakeholder group related to the project/operation, and the implications for engagement strategy;
  4. Analyzes gendered roles and power dynamics within households and communities, and their implications for inclusive engagement;
  5. Includes evaluation of pre-existing community dynamics and a conflict analysis to understand if the project/operation may create or has created intra-community, inter-community or interpersonal tensions or conflicts that warrant special engagement strategies; and
  6. Is updated when there are proposed changes to a project/operation or changes in the operational, environmental, or social context that may influence the number and/or breadth of affected stakeholders.

NOTE FOR 1.2.1.1:  REVISED. We combined 1.2.1.1 with former 1.2.1.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard and we are proposing new content.

The version of this requirement in the 2018 Mining Standard referred to stakeholder identification, and we are proposing to expand the requirement to include stakeholder mapping and analysis. Stakeholder mapping is a requirement in other mining-related standards such as the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative and the Responsible Minerals Initiative’s Risk Readiness Assessment.

In sub-requirement (a), we specifically require identification of stakeholders who may be opposed to the operation, as this stakeholder group may be overlooked or avoided by entities proposing or operating mines and processing facilities, even though these stakeholders have the ability to influence projects/operations. This was in our guidance materials previously. 

Also, we have added a footnote that explains that if Indigenous Peoples are identified, that the mapping and analysis of those communities needs to occur as per the expectations in 1.2.1.1, but that the performance on the requirement will be factored into the score in Chapter 2.2-Indigenous Peoples and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (See requirement 2.2.3.1.c). Previously, it was unclear how the two chapters overlapped.

We added a sub-requirement (b) because we refer to potentially vulnerable elsewhere, but the step of actually identifying those groups was missing. 

We added a sub-requirement (c) as it is best practice to not just identify stakeholders, but also understand the perspectives, interests and priorities of individuals and groups of stakeholders. This is a concept that is integrated into the IFC Performance Standard 1, and other guidance materials.

Sub-requirement (d) is new. It is being proposed concurrent with a proposed chapter on Gender Equality and Gender Protections. We can add guidance to help entities understand the type of analysis that could be done to better understand gendered roles and power dynamics.

Sub-requirement (e) integrates the former 1.2.1.4 because efforts to understand community dynamics (pre-existing, and potential changes due to the project/operation) should be part of stakeholder analysis. 

We added a sub-requirement (f) to update the mapping and analysis when there are proposed changes/major modifications that may affect more or different stakeholders or rights holders.

A stakeholder engagement plan is in place and implemented to guide the entity’s engagement and communications with stakeholders. The plan:
  1. Is developed by competent professionals;
  2. Identifies a timetable of engagement activities for the year, and the purpose or goals for each engagement;
  3. Identifies how engagements will capture input from a diversity of stakeholders (including different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups);
  4. Identifies how engagement processes will avoid or minimize conflicts between stakeholders and/or communities that are being engaged;
  5. Identifies how, when and in what formats information relevant to engagements will be communicated to stakeholders; and
  6. Includes documentation of a budget and staff responsibilities for implementing the various engagement activities.

NOTE FOR 1.2.1.2:  REVISED. The proposed changes add more specificity so that there is clarity on what stakeholder engagements plans need to include. These plans guide the work of stakeholder engagement, and so a plan that outlines the work should be developed and documented. Much of this content comes from IFC guidance on the sample contents for stakeholder engagement plans.

The stakeholder engagement plan is reviewed annually and updated as necessary based on an evaluation of the effectiveness of the previous year’s engagement processes, stakeholder input on engagement processes (1.2.1.4), and any updates to stakeholder mapping and analysis.

NOTE FOR 1.2.1.3:  NEW. Requirement 1.2.1.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard included that the engagement plan be scaled to the project’s risk, impacts and stage of development. That has been removed due to the subjectivity of the requirement, and lack of consistency that could result from one auditor to the next in determining if the plan is adequately scaled or not. Instead, we are proposing in sub-requirement (b) that entities demonstrate that they evaluate the effectiveness of the plan, which is something that auditors can verify. 

Periodically, the entity consults with stakeholders to gather input on potential improvements to the design of engagement processes (e.g., timing, accessibility, inclusiveness, cultural appropriateness, etc.).

NOTE FOR 1.2.1.3:  REVISED. This was 1.2.1.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We removed the part of the requirement to “demonstrate that continuous efforts are taken to understand and remove barriers to engagement for affected stakeholders (especially women, marginalized and vulnerable groups).” Identifying barriers and taking action to remove them is now covered requirement 1.2.3.1.

1.2.2: Stakeholder Engagement Processes

NOTE FOR 1.2.2:  Minor change to title of this criterion. Added the word Stakeholder.

Requirement 1.2.2.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard has been deleted. The former 1.2.2.1. said, “Stakeholder engagement shall begin prior to or during mine planning, and be ongoing, throughout the life of the mine.”  Part of the requirement, i.e., that engagement be ongoing, has been moved to the new 1.2.2.1. We are proposing to delete that engagement “begin prior to or during mine planning”. There was already guidance to auditors to not score that element for existing mines because sites cannot turn back the clock to so something that was not initially done. Because this revised Standard represents all phases of the life cycle, we are instead proposing to require that there be evidence that stakeholder engagement has occurred and continues to occur for every project/operation, but we are proposing that we not rate sites on when engagement started.

The entity fosters two-way dialogue and meaningful stakeholder engagement by:
  1. Providing stakeholders with opportunities to contribute to meeting agendas and add topics of concern to them;
  2. Providing relevant information to stakeholders, including advance notice of proposed activities;
  3. Engaging in a manner that is free from manipulation, interference, coercion, or intimidation;
  4. Engaging with a broad spectrum of stakeholders representing a diversity in genders, ages, ethnicities, and members of any potentially vulnerable groups;
  5. Regularly soliciting feedback from stakeholders on issues relevant to the stakeholders;
  6. Including participation by site management and subject-matter experts when addressing concerns of significance to stakeholders; and
  7. Engaging on an ongoing basis, throughout the project/operation life cycle.

NOTE FOR 1.2.2.1:  REVISED. This was 1.2.2.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. It was a critical requirement (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

There are a few sub-requirements that are either new or revised.

Sub-requirement 1.2.2.1.a is new. Allowing stakeholder to contribute to meeting was added because stakeholders have reflected that they often arrive at meetings with pre-set agendas, without time to discuss the issues that are of greatest concern or interest to them.

In sub-requirement 1.2.2.1.c, we have removed the words “in a timely manner” because this duplicates 1.2.4.1, below. But we have added in 1.2.4.1.b that advance notice of proposed activities be provided, because sharing information on proposed activities gives stakeholders an opportunity to potentially influence activities that may conflict with cultural or environmental values or livelihood activities. For example, there may be local knowledge about locations of sensitive species that might be disturbed by noise during certain time periods, and this input influence the nature or timing of proposed activities in a positive manner.

Otherwise, the requirement either incorporates elements related to meaningful engagement that were included elsewhere in the 2018 Mining Standard, or deletes elements that have been moved elsewhere in the chapter. For example, the need for engagement to be ongoing was in the previous 1.2.2.1. 

The need to include participation by a broad spectrum of stakeholders including women, men, marginalized and vulnerable groups is now stated more clearly in 1.2.2.1.d. It was previously mentioned in 1.2.1.3 and 1.2.2.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

One sub-requirement was removed from 1.2.2.1 (providing stakeholders with feedback on how the company has taken their input into account). That expectation has been integrated into 1.2.2.6.

At least one permanent stakeholder engagement mechanism is in place that:
  1. Is designed in collaboration with stakeholders, including representatives from affected communities; and
  2. Facilitates regular and ongoing:
    1. Stakeholder review of the project’s/operation’s environmental and social performance; and
    2. Input to the entity on issues of concern to stakeholders, including but not limited to grievances.

NOTE FOR 1.2.2.2:  REVISED. The content in this requirement is the same as the 2018 Mining Standard, but has been re-organized so that there are two distinct sub-requirements to be audited.

Changed wording from “oversight” of performance, which could be interpreted as imparting a level of level of supervision, to “review of” and “input” on performance, which was the original intent of the requirement.

Added reference to grievances as concerns that could be discussed through the mechanism. 

When stakeholder engagement processes depend substantially on community representatives speaking for the community:
  1. Efforts are made by the entity to confirm whether or not such people represent the views and interests of diverse affected community members and can be relied upon to reliably communicate relevant information back to the community, and from the community to the entity; and
  2. If either the representatives are not considered to represent the views of the community, or information from the engagement processes are not flowing back to the community, then the entity implements additional engagement processes to enable more meaningful input from and information sharing with the broader community.

NOTE FOR 1.2.2.3:  REVISED. Renumbered (was requirement 1.2.2.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard) and restructured so that it is clearer to auditors and others that there are two parts to this requirement. 

First, if the entity engages with community representatives that are supposed to be speaking for or on behalf of a community, it is the entity’s responsibility to understand if this form of engagement is truly capturing the views and interests of a broad range of affected stakeholders, and if the broader community is subsequently being briefed by community representatives on their interactions with the entity. 

Second, if that is not occurring, then it is up to the entity to implement additional engagement processes so that the broader community is more engaged, and their opinions, concerns and suggestions better reflected.

If there are no engagement processes that depend substantially on community representatives, but the engagement processes use other mechanisms to remain inclusive of the views and interests of a broad range of affected stakeholders, then this could be marked as ‘Not Relevant’.

Engagement processes are documented, including, at minimum:
  1. Names of participants;
  2. Input received from stakeholders; and
  3. Feedback provided by the entity to stakeholders.

NOTE FOR 1.2.2.4:  This was requirement 1.2.2.6 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

The entity reports back to affected communities and individual stakeholders on:
  1. Input received during stakeholder engagement processes; and
  2. How stakeholder input and concerns were taken into account and addressed by the entity.

NOTE FOR 1.2.2.5:  REVISED. This was 1.2.2.7 in the 2018 Mining Standard). We integrated reporting on how stakeholder input was taken into account (was previously included as 1.2.2.2.e in the 2018 Mining Standard).  

1.2.3: Strengthening Capacity to Engage

NOTE FOR 1.2.3:  Minor change to title of this criterion. Added the words “to Engage”.

Efforts to build capacity for effective stakeholder engagement are implemented and documented, including:
  1. Periodic consultations with stakeholders from affected communities to assess stakeholders’ capacity to effectively engage with the entity (e.g., to engage in dialogue, consultations, studies, impact assessments, the development of mitigation plans, monitoring programs, community development strategies, etc.);
  2. Periodic consultations with stakeholders to identify and understand potential barriers to participation in engagement processes that exist for different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups;
  3. Where barriers to participation or capacity gaps are identified, collaboration with relevant stakeholders to agree on strategies to facilitate more effective engagement that include appropriate funding, training, or other forms of assistance; and
  4. Periodic consultations with stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies to remove barriers and build capacity, and updating of capacity building strategies, as necessary.

NOTE FOR 1.2.3.1:  REVISED and combined with elements of 1.2.1.3 from the 2018 Mining Standard.

This requirement has been revised to make it clear that capacity building is a process of assessing barriers to participation and capacity needs, planning and providing assistance (with direction from the stakeholders themselves), monitoring to determine if efforts are being effective, and updating planned capacity building efforts if necessary.

Sub-requirement (c) integrates the concept of understanding and removing barriers to participation, which had been covered in the former 1.2.1.3.

Also, added a footnote that, regarding the assessment, a number of assessments may need to take place over time, as the stakeholders involved in one aspect of the operation (e.g., studies or assessments) may differ from those who are engaged in other parts of the operation (e.g., the development of mitigation plans or monitoring), or those helping to developing community health-related mitigation strategies may be different than the stakeholders who are engaged in mitigation of impacts on biodiversity. 

1.2.4: Communications and Access to Information

Communications with stakeholders and provision of information occur:
  1. In a timely manner. If that is not possible, the entity provides stakeholders with a documented justification or explanation for the delay; and
  2. In a manner that is culturally appropriate and accessible to the stakeholders.

NOTE FOR 1.2.4.1:  REVISED and combines 1.2.4.3 and 1.2.4.4 from the 2018 Mining Standard.

“Communications with stakeholders” could include providing updates on changes to the operation, reporting back on issues raised (see 1.2.2.5), and could be various forms such as written and verbal presentations, materials such as fact sheets, letters, emails and written responses meant specifically for stakeholders (e.g., responses to queries or complaints), while “provision of information” refers to providing copies of existing documentation such as policies, procedures, studies, reports or data that the site has already produced for other reasons. Provision of information may occur proactively or be a result of information requestions.

Previously, IRMA did not define “culturally appropriate,” but instead included a footnote to provide some context. We are proposing to include the following definition and welcome any feedback on it.

Culturally Appropriate
Refers to methods, formats, languages, and timing (e.g., of communications, interactions and provision of information) being aligned with the cultural norms, practices and traditions of affected communities, rights holders and stakeholders.

Community engagement is conducted by competent professionals with demonstrated experience or training in cultural awareness and sensitivity.

NOTE FOR 1.2.4.2:  NEW. It also integrates a requirement from Chapter 3.7 that referred to cultural awareness training. It has been included here instead of Chapter 3.7 to make it clear that training in cultural awareness and sensitivity should occur for any of the entity’s staff who may interact with Indigenous Peoples or peoples from a different cultural background (not just those who may come into contact with cultural heritage resources that need to be protected).

We expect to elaborate in guidance that not all staff will need the same level of training – those with major roles should be more proficient, but those with incidental roles should also have intercultural awareness and engage in a culturally sensitive manner.

The requirement for training on cultural awareness is similar to an expectation in the Mining Association of Canada’s Toward Sustainable Mining Communities protocol.

An access to information policy (or equivalent) is in place and implemented to guide the provision of information to stakeholders. The policy:
  1. Provides that requests for information related to the environmental or social performance of the project/operation will be met in full or, if caveats are added, they align with the following:
    1. If requests are challenging to fulfill because of the large volume of information requested, the entity will provide stakeholders with summaries of requested information and a documented justification or explanation for why information is not being provided in full or according to the preferred timeline of the stakeholder; or
    2. If document contains some confidential business information, the entity will redact only the confidential information, allowing for the release of non-confidential information.
  2. Is communicated to stakeholders; and
  3. Is publicly available.

NOTE FOR 1.2.4.3:  REVISED. As mentioned in the note for 1.2.4.1, above, this requirement combines elements of various requirements found in the 2018 Mining Standard (1.2.4.3.a integrates elements of 1.2.4.1 and 1.2.4.2).

We are proposing changes to the requirement because in numerous other chapters in the IRMA Standard there are expectations that certain information be provided to stakeholders “upon request”. But those requirements have proven very difficult to audit as written, because if the auditee tells auditors that there were no requests for information then the auditor has two choices – mark it as fully meets (which isn’t accurate, since there is no evidence, other than perhaps a verbal guarantee, that if asked the entity would provide the information) or mark it as not relevant (which is more accurate, since there were not requests, but is problematic because if stakeholders are not aware that they can request information, then there may never be any requests).

The proposal here is that instead of the approach in the 2018 Mining Standard, which was essentially a blanket statement saying, “information shall be made available,” that entities have in place an “access to information” or similar policy that commits the entity to providing information to stakeholders if requests are made, and that this policy be communicated to stakeholders.

This new approach aims to make it clear to entities and stakeholders that IRMA expects that stakeholders have access to information about the environmental and social performance of a project or operation if they are so interested. It also still takes into consideration the fact that it may be difficult to fulfill all requests in full, and so we are proposing that at minimum, summaries of data or information are provided.

Chapter 1.3: Human Rights Due Diligence

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  There are only a few proposed changes to this chapter. There have been some structural changes to try to make the requirements and expectations clearer. 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • We added a requirement for management plan, to be more consistent with other IRMA chapters (1.3.2.1)
  • We added a requirement to evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation/management actions (1.3.4.2)
  • We deleted one requirement that was informative, rather than an actual expectation.

1.3.1: Policy Commitment

A human rights policy (or equivalent) is in place that an acknowledgement of the entity’s responsibility to respect all internationally recognized human rights. The policy:
  1. Is approved at the most senior level of the entity;
  2. Is informed by relevant internal and/or external expertise;
  3. Stipulates the entity's human rights expectations of personnel, business partners, and other parties directly linked to the project/operation; and
  4. Is publicly available and communicated internally and externally to all personnel, business partners, and other relevant parties and stakeholders

NOTE FOR 1.3.1.1:  This requirement combines 1.3.1.1 and 1.3.1.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard. Both included elements of a policy, and in other chapters these elements are combined into a single requirement.  1.3.1.1 was a critical requirement, and so we are keeping 1.3.1.1 as a critical requirement (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

We have also removed the element that stated that the policy would be reflected in the project/operation’s policies and procedures. The rest of the chapter serves to integrate human rights responsibility expectations at the site level, and so this element is redundant.

1.3.2: Assessment of Human Rights Risks and Impacts

NOTE FOR 1.3.2:  Two requirements have been changed in this section. Requirement 1.3.2.5 from the 2018 Mining Standard has been deleted. It required an entity to “demonstrate that steps have been taken to effectively integrate assessment findings at the mine site operational level.” This is now redundant, because there are now explicit requirements asking for a management plan (1.3.3.1), and the plan is subject to monitoring and evaluation for effectiveness (1.3.4.1 and 1.3.4.2.). 

Also, the original requirement 1.3.2.1 from the 2018 Mining Standard contained information that duplicated expectations in other requirements (i.e., to identify assess human rights issues), and also contained an expectation for updating the assessment. The requirement to update is now 1.3.2.4, and the original 1.3.2.1 has been deleted to avoid duplication. 

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.3-1:  The original requirement 1.3.2.1 was a critical requirement. See the Note on Critical Requirements, above, for context on critical requirements. Because it contained expectations to identify, assess and update human rights assessments, it is not clear which of the following requirements should be the replacement critical requirement. 

There are three options under consideration as a replacement critical requirement:  1) The integrity/robustness of the assessment process (new 1.3.2.1, below), the content of the assessment (new 1.3.2.2, below), or the updating of the assessment (new 1.3.3.3, below).  Do you have an opinion on which of those three requirements should be the critical requirement? Any rationale to support your choice would be appreciated.

The entity identifies and assesses potential human rights impacts (hereafter referred to as human rights 'risks') and actual human rights impacts from mining-related activities and business relationships. The assessment, which is scaled to the size of the entity and severity of human rights risks and impacts:
  1. Documents and follow a credible methodology;
  2. Is carried out by competent professionals;
  3. Draws on internal and/or external human rights expertise; and
  4. Is informed by consultations with potentially affected rights holders, including different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups, and other relevant stakeholders.

NOTE FOR 1.3.2.1: REVISED. This was 1.3.2.1 and 1.3.2.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 1.3.2.1 was a critical requirement, and so we have kept that delineation (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

We separated language referring to including views of human rights experts from the consultations with stakeholders. These are now (c) and (d). Also added a specific reference to human rights defenders.

And we removed a requirement for periodic updating (that is now requirement 1.3.2.4).

The assessment includes, at minimum:
  1. An explanation of the assessment methodology;
  2. An analysis of the current human rights context in the country and project/operation area;
  3. An overview of relevant human rights laws and norms;
  4. An identification of rights holders;
  5. A comprehensive list of the human rights risks related to the entity’s mining-related activities and business relationships, and an evaluation of the potential severity of impacts and probability of occurrence for each identified risk;
  6. Identification of any human rights impacts that have already occurred in relation to the project/operation;
  7. An analysis of the potential differential risks to and impacts on rights holder groups (including but not limited to human rights defenders, people of different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups ), and a disaggregation of results by rights holder group; and
  8. Recommended actions or measures that can be taken by the entity to prevent, mitigate, and remediate identified risks and impacts, giving priority to the most salient human rights issues.

NOTE FOR 1.3.2.2: REVISED. This was requirement 1.3.2.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We added (d), the identification of rights holders, as this is necessary in order to be able to determine risks to them. We separated out former sub-requirement (e) into (e) and (f) for clarity.  Also added a specific reference to human rights defenders in (g), as those individuals, if present, often face risks and must be included in the analysis.

Stakeholders and rights holders who participate in the assessment process have the opportunity to review draft key issues and findings that are relevant to them and are consulted to provide feedback on those findings.
Assessments are updated throughout the project/operation’s life cycle when there are proposed changes to mining-related activities, or changes in business relationships or in the operational, environmental, or social context that may create new human rights risks or change the nature or degree of an existing impact.

NOTE FOR 1.3.2.4: REVISED. This was part of 1.3.2.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We are proposing to separate it out for consistency with other IRMA chapters. 

1.3.3: Management of Human Rights Risks and Impacts

A human rights management plan (or equivalent) is developed and implemented to prevent, mitigate, and remediate the most salient human rights risks and impacts identified in the human rights assessment (and/or from other sources of information). The management plan:
  1. Is developed by competent professionals;
  2. Outlines the agreed specific actions to minimize, mitigate, or compensate for potential and actual adverse human rights impacts;
  3. Includes performance criteria and indicators (including gender- and/or rights-holder-disaggregated indicators where appropriate), linked to adequate baseline data, to enable monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of actions over time;
  4. Assigns implementation of actions, or oversight of implementation, to responsible staff;
  5. Includes an implementation schedule; and
  6. Includes estimates of human resources and budget required and a financing plan to ensure that funding is available for the effective implementation of the plan.

NOTE FOR 1.3.3.1:  NEW. We are proposing to add this requirement as the 2018 Mining Standard did not have an explicit requirement for a human rights impacts management plan. A requirement for a management plan is consistent with other IRMA chapters, as are the elements describing what needs to be in the plan.

Based on the outcome of the human rights assessment (and/or other sources of information), the following specific actions are included in the management plan and are implemented to prevent, mitigate, and remediate salient human rights risks and impacts:
  1. Where salient risks to human rights have been identified:
    1. And the entity determines that the risk to human rights is related solely to its own actions, it prioritizes preventing impacts from occurring, and if this is not possible, designs strategies to mitigate the human rights risks. Mitigation measures are developed in consultation with potentially affected rights holders;
    2. And the entity determines that it is one of two or more entities that bears some responsibility for creating the risk to human rights, it develops actions to prevent or mitigate its contribution, and uses its leverage to influence other contributing parties to prevent or mitigate their contributions to the human rights risks; and/or
    3. If the entity determines that it is at risk of being linked to adverse human rights impacts through its business relationships, it uses its leverage to influence responsible parties to prevent or mitigate their risks to human rights from their activities.
  2. Where actual human rights impacts have been identified:
    1. And the entity determines that it has caused the impact, it ceases or changes the activity responsible for the impact and in a timely manner and develops mitigation strategies and remediation in collaboration with affected rights holders. If mutually acceptable remedies cannot be found through dialogue, the entity attempts to reach agreement through an independent, third-party mediator or another means mutually acceptable to affected rights holders; and/or
    2. And the entity determines that it has contributed to an actual human rights impact, it ceases or changes any of its activities that are contributing to the impact, mitigates and remediates impacts to the extent of its contribution, and uses its leverage to influence other contributing parties to cease or change their activities, and mitigate and remediate the remaining impact; and/or
    3. And the entity determines that it is linked to an actual human rights impact through a business relationship, it uses its leverage to prevent or mitigate the impact from continuing or recurring; and
    4. Where they exist, the entity cooperates with other legitimate processes such as judicial or state-based investigations or proceedings related to human rights impacts that the entity caused, contributed to, or was directly linked to through its business relationships.

NOTE FOR 1.3.3.2:  REVISED. This combines requirements 1.3.3.2 and 1.3.3.3 from the 2018 Mining Standard. The requirement still outlines the different expected actions to be taken based on whether or not it is a human rights risk or actual impact, and whether or not the entity caused the risk/impact, etc. But we have tried to make it clearer that if risks or impacts come to light (either through the risk assessment or some other source, such as a grievance being filed) that the specified actions need to be incorporated into the management plan, and implemented.

In the 2018 Mining Standard, requirement 1.3.3.3, which outlined the response to human rights impacts (i.e., information in 1.3.3.2.b, above) was a critical requirement. We have now combined that requirement with the response to human rights risks. We are designating this entire requirement as critical (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

Stakeholders have access to and are informed about a rights-compatible grievance mechanism and/or other mechanisms through which they can raise concerns and seek recourse for grievances related to human rights

NOTE FOR 1.3.3.3:  This was 1.3.3.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.4-2 (repeated from Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’)

Background:  Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’ includes a range of requirements surrounding the existence of an accessible and effective operational-level grievance mechanism. It is not possible to score well on Chapter 1.4 if the mechanism does not have certain quality-related characteristics. Other chapters (i.e., human rights, gender, resettlement, security, ASM) also have requirements relating to the existence of a grievance mechanism; however, the requirements in each of those chapters ask only that a mechanism is in place that allows grievances to be filed and addressed, but they do not speak to the overall quality of that mechanism. This is an approach proposed by IRMA to avoid too much repetition across chapters. However, this creates a situation in which an entity could theoretically score ‘fully meets’ on the grievance-related requirement in an individual chapter (which in most cases only asks that stakeholders have “access to” a grievance mechanism), even if the grievance mechanism as a whole is not an effective one (as reflected in the overall score for Chapter 1.4). 

Question:  Should an entity’s score on grievance-related requirements within individual non-grievance-specific chapters be restrained or linked to the overall score that the entity gets on the grievance chapter (Chapter 1.4) as a whole? 

For example, if a site scores 80% on Chapter 1.4, the most the site could receive for a grievance requirement in the other chapters would be a ‘substantially meets,’ but if a site scores 100% on Chapter 1.4 then, assuming the mechanism can handle grievances specific to the other chapters, they could possibly get a ‘fully meets’ rating on those grievance requirements.

1.3.4: Monitoring and Evaluation

NOTE FOR 1.3.4: REVISED. We are proposing to change the name of this criterion from ‘Monitoring’ to ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’ to better reflect the content and that the purpose of ‘monitoring’ is to evaluate the findings and make changes accordingly. 

The entity monitors whether the prevention, mitigation, and remediation strategies developed to address salient human rights risks and impacts and included in the management plan are being effectively implemented. The monitoring:
  1. Includes documentation of actual performance in relation to indicators (see 1.3.3.1.b); and
  2. Includes feedback from internal and external sources, including affected rights holders.

NOTE FOR 1.3.4.1: REVISED. This was requirement 1.3.4.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We are proposing to add that it is the management measures (prevention, mitigation, and remediation) that are to be monitored, rather than generically referring to ‘effectively addressing’ human rights risks/impacts. We also separated out sub-requirement (a) and (b) from the original (2018) requirement for clarity.

Annually or more frequently, the entity reviews monitoring results and any human-rights-related grievances, and evaluates the effectiveness of its prevention, mitigation, and remediation strategies. Based on the review, the management plan is updated, if necessary, to improve the effectiveness of its actions.

NOTE FOR 1.3.4.2: NEW. We are proposing to add this requirement as a complement to the NEW requirement for a human rights impact management plan (1.3.3.1), and for consistency with other IRMA chapters.

External monitoring of the entity’s human rights due diligence occurs if its due diligence efforts repeatedly fail to prevent, mitigate, or remediate actual human rights impacts; or if its due diligence activities fail to prevent the entity from unknowingly or unintentionally causing, contributing to or being linked to any serious human rights abuse. Additionally:
  1. The entity funds the external monitoring; and
  2. The form of such monitoring, and selection of external monitors, is determined in collaboration with affected rights holders.

NOTE FOR 1.3.4.3: This was 1.4.4.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

1.3.5: Reporting

NOTE FOR 1.3.5:  We have deleted a requirement (1.3.5.3) from the 2018 Mining Standard that related to the exclusion of confidential information because it was more informative than an actual requirement. Information from that requirement is now included as a footnote in both 1.3.5.1 and 1.3.5.2.

The entity periodically reports publicly on the effectiveness of its human-rights due diligence activities. At minimum, reporting includes the methods used to determine the salient human rights issues, a list of salient risks and impacts that were identified, and actions taken at the site-level to prevent, mitigate and/or remediate the human rights risks and impacts.

NOTE FOR 1.3.5.1:  REVISED. This was 1.3.5.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. That requirement specified that the entity’s corporate owner could also do the reporting. We have moved that to a footnote and have clarified that if the reporting is done at the corporate level this requirement can only be fully met if all of the elements in 1.3.5.1, including the specific risks and impacts for the site under IRMA assessment, are reported.

If external monitoring is required per 1.3.4.3, the entity publishes a report on external monitoring findings and recommendations to improve its human rights due diligence, and the entity reports to relevant stakeholders and rights holders on its plans to improve its due diligence activities as a result of external monitoring recommendations.

NOTE FOR 1.3.5.2:  This was 1.3.5.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

Chapter 1.X: Gender Equality and Gender Protections

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  This is a NEW chapter being proposed. We have assigned it a chapter number of 1.X, and have inserted it in the location in the Standard where it will likely be placed if the addition of this chapter is supported by IRMA stakeholders and approved by the IRMA Board. 

This proposed chapter offers requirements that aim to advance gender equality and gender protections. Examples include understanding the social and political dynamics of the surrounding community, collecting gender-disaggregated data, and requiring companies to complete a Gender Impacts and Opportunities Assessment and create and implement a Gender Management Plan to address gender-related risks and to promote gender equity and empowerment within the workplace and community. 

The chapter complements the commitment to gender equality and gender protections found throughout the IRMA Standard by requiring mining companies to develop a related policy and plan and to monitor and report on it.

If stakeholders generally support and the IRMA Board approves addition of this chapter, then we will incorporate the terminology in this chapter throughout the IRMA Standard and develop additional guidance to support companies in their implementation and auditors in their assessment of conformity with the chapter’s expectations.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-1:  Below are proposed definitions of key terms in this chapter. Do you have any comments or suggestions on these definitions and/or suggestions for references to other definitions we should review and/or incorporate?

Gender
Gender refers to the norms, responsibilities, and social structure enforcing pre-defined roles for women, men, girls, boys, and gender-diverse people. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time. Regarding mineral development (i.e., exploration, mining, mineral processing), issues of gender equality often focus on women in particular because they face a heightened risk to adverse effects from mining-related activities, due in large part to patriarchal gender norms and differences in women’s access to and control over resources relative to men. 

         Source: Adapted from World Health Organization, Health Topics: Gender, https://www.who.int/health-topics/gender#tab=tab_1

Gender Diverse
People whose gender identity, including their gender expression, is at odds with the gender norm, including those who do not place themselves in the male/female binary (non-binary) and people who identify with a different sex than the one assigned to them at birth. 

         Source: Adapted from United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, The Struggle of Trans and Gender-Diverse Persons: Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/struggle-trans-and-gender-diverse-persons#:~:text=The%20term%20%22gender%2Ddiverse%22,binary%3B%20the%20more%20specific%20term

Gender Equality
The equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of women, men, and gender-diverse individuals. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same, but that rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on a person’s sex at birth. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs, and priorities of women, men, and gender-diverse individuals are taken into consideration. Gender equality is not a women’s issue; it is an issue that should concern and fully engage men, women, and gender-diverse individuals. Equality between women, men, and gender-diverse individuals is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development. 

         Source: Adapted from UN Women, Gender Mainstreaming Concepts and Definitions, available at https://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/conceptsandefinitions.htm

Gender Mainstreaming
Integration of gender concerns into the design and management of business operations in order to improve business outcomes and identify areas where benefits, risks and impacts may be experienced differently for men, women, and gender-diverse individuals. This may include intersectional gender analysis, intersectional gender impact assessments, and consultation with gender experts.

        Gender mainstreaming can better enable the successful development, implementation, and ongoing monitoring of gender-responsive strategies and measures designed to address issues of gender equality.

Gender Protections
Addressing and keeping people safe from gender-based discrimination, violence, and harm, e.g., sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). 

        Source: Adapted from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Protection, Gender and Inclusion, https://www.ifrc.org/our-work/inclusion-protection-and-engagement/protection-gender-and-inclusion#:~:text=Protection%20means%20addressing%20violence%20and,excluded%20people%20in%20our%20work

Intersectional
Discrimination based on one factor such as gender may intersect with other factors of discrimination such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, geographic location, gender identity and sexual orientation, among others. 

        Source: World Health Organization, Health Topics: Gender, https://www.who.int/health-topics/gender#tab=tab_1

Vulnerable Group
A group whose resource endowment is inadequate to provide sufficient income from any available source, or that has some specific characteristics that make it more susceptible to health impacts or lack of economic opportunities due to social biases or cultural norms (e.g., may include households headed by women or children, people with disabilities, the extremely poor, the elderly, at-risk children and youth, ex-combatants, internally displaced people and returning refugees, HIV/AIDS-affected individuals and households, religious and ethnic minorities, migrant workers, and groups that suffer social and economic discrimination, including Indigenous Peoples, minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) and gender-diverse individuals, and in some societies, women). 

          Sources:  Adapted from IFC. 2002. Handbook for Preparing a Resettlement Action Plan, FAO, and World Bank: “Vulnerable Groups.”

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-2:  References to women and gender-diverse individuals as potentially “vulnerable” or as “vulnerable groups” may sound disempowering and/or otherwise not aligned with the objectives of this chapter to advance gender equality. Are there other widely recognized terms or phrases we could use that recognize the potential susceptibility of women and gender-diverse individuals to adverse impacts such as health impacts or lack of economic opportunities due to social biases or cultural norms?

1.X.1: Policy Commitment

A gender policy (or equivalent) is in place that includes an acknowledgement of the entity’s commitment to advance gender equality and gender mainstreaming and to ensure gender protections respect all internationally recognized human rights. The policy:
  1. Is approved at the most senior level of the entity;
  2. Is informed by relevant internal and/or external expertise;
  3. Stipulates the entity's expectations of personnel, business partners and other parties directly linked to the project/operation to advance gender equality and gender mainstreaming and to ensure gender protections; and
  4. Is publicly available and communicated internally and externally to all personnel, business partners, and other relevant parties and stakeholders.

1.X.2: Gender Impact and Opportunities Assessment

The entity establishes an ongoing process to identify and assess their level of achievement of gender equality and gender protections, and to assess gender-related risks or actual impacts from mining-related activities and business relationships. Assessments:
  1. Follow a credible methodology;
  2. Are carried out by competent professionals;
  3. Draw on internal and/or external gender expertise; and
  4. Is informed by consultations with potentially affected rights holders, including different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups , and other relevant stakeholders.
As part of its assessment, the entity documents, at minimum:
  1. An explanation of the assessment methodology;
  2. An analysis of current gender norms and gender equality and gender protections context in the country and project/operation area, including norms and contexts that may have adverse impacts and those that may create opportunities;
  3. An overview of relevant gender equality and gender protection laws, including customary (traditional) laws;
  4. Assessment of the following gender-related factors, at a minimum:
    1. Gender inequalities within the workplace including: 1) differences in remuneration (e.g., non-equal pay for equal work); 2) differences in retention; 3) differences in roles and responsibilities, including participation in senior leadership and management roles and responsibilities; 4) differences in benefits; and 5) differences in levels of health and safety;
    2. Gender-specific risks in the workplace including violence, sexual harassment, intimidation, and health and safety;
    3. Gender-specific barriers to employment including: 1) education level; 2) training opportunities; 3) accommodating family roles; 4) cultural norms; 5) legal status; and 6) health and safety;
    4. Gender-specific barriers to stakeholder engagement (e.g., participation in consultations, training, capacity building) including: accommodating family roles; cultural norms; and health and safety.
    5. Gender-specific differences in or barriers to equitable community development and benefit sharing opportunities;
    6. Gender-specific differences in or barriers to restoration of livelihoods and in outcomes of resettlement action plans, if relevant;
    7. Gender-specific risks in the community including violence, sexual harassment, and intimidation; and
    8. Opportunities to collaborate with stakeholders to promote gender equity and empowerment in the community and workplace.
  5. The identification of rights holders, an analysis of the potential differentiated risks to and impacts on rights holder groups such as different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups , and a disaggregation of results by rights holder group; and
  6. Recommended actions or measures that can be taken by the entity to prevent, mitigate, and remediate identified risks and impacts, giving priority to the most salient issues, and recommended actions or measures that can be taken to promote gender equity and empowerment.

NOTE FOR 1.X.2.2:  If this chapter is added to the IRMA Standard, we will cross-reference the elements in 1.3.2.3.d in relevant chapters, e.g., 2.3, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3. Also, we can add guidance to clarify and provide examples of gender-specific barriers.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-3:  Do you have any comments on the set of minimum factors listed above and/or can you provide examples of common factors used in gender assessments (with reference to original source)?

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-4:  In some circumstances a person may prefer not to disclose their gender, e.g., when filing a grievance—including a grievance related to gender. Allowing a worker or community member to choose not to disclose this information can have the positive impact of protecting a stakeholder or stakeholder group in some cases and may also make assessing and addressing impacts and opportunities by gender more challenging. Should we include a requirement that allows a preference not to disclose one’s gender? Why or why not? In what contexts might a preference not to disclose one’s gender be necessary? In what contexts might this not be appropriate?

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-5:  We note that in some circumstances a person may prefer not to disclose sexual orientation, marital status, or other factors. Should we include a requirement to allow a preference not to disclose particular intersectional factor(s)? If so, what factors and why? In what contexts might a preference not to disclose the factor(s) you’ve identified be necessary? Are there any contexts in which a preference not to disclose the factor(s) may not be appropriate?

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-6:  This chapter aims to take an intersectional approach, promoting assessment of impacts by gender and understanding and addressing related factors of discrimination such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, age, geographic location, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or marital status, for example. Are there specific factors you recommend for intersectional assessments? 

At minimum, stakeholders and rights holders who participate in the assessment process:
  1. Have the opportunity to review draft key issues and findings that are relevant to them, and
  2. Are consulted to provide feedback on assessment findings and proposed strategies to prevent, mitigate, and remediate identified salient risks and impacts and promote gender equity and empowerment.
The assessment is updated when there are proposed changes to mining-related activities, or changes in business relationships or in the operational, environmental, or social context that may create new risks or change the nature or degree of an existing impact.

1.X.3: Management and Promotion of Gender Equity and Empowerment

A gender management plan (or equivalent) is developed and implemented to prevent, mitigate, and remediate the most salient gender-related risks and impacts, and promote gender equity and empowerment in its project/operation and in affected communities. The plan:
  1. Is developed by competent professionals;
  2. Outlines specific actions that will be implemented to prevent, mitigate, and remediate identified salient risks and impacts and promote gender equity and empowerment;
  3. Identifies key indicators, and ensures that there is an adequate baseline for the indicators to enable measurement of the effectiveness of actions over time; and
  4. Assigns implementation of actions, or oversight of implementation, to responsible staff;
  5. Includes an implementation schedule; and
  6. Includes estimates of human resources and budget required and a financing plan to ensure that funding is available for the effective implementation of the plan.
Stakeholders have access to and are informed about a rights-compatible grievance mechanism and other mechanisms through which they can raise concerns and seek recourse for grievances related to gender-related impacts.

1.X.4: Monitoring and Evaluation

The entity monitors whether the prevention, mitigation, and remediation strategies developed to address salient gender risks and impacts and the efforts to promote gender equity and empowerment included in the management plan are being effectively implemented. The monitoring:
  1. Includes documentation of actual performance in relation to indicators (see 1.X.3.1.b); and
  2. Includes feedback from internal and external sources, including affected rights holders.
Annually or more frequently, the entity reviews monitoring results (1.X.4.1) and any related grievances and evaluates the effectiveness of its strategies. Based on that review, the management plan is updated, if necessary, to improve the effectiveness of its actions.

1.X.5: Reporting

The entity annually reports publicly on the effectiveness of its gender equality and gender protection activities. At minimum, reporting includes the methods used to determine the salient gender issues, a list of salient gender risks and impacts that were identified, and actions taken at the site-level to prevent, mitigate and/or remediate the salient gender risk and impacts and promote gender equity and empowerment.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.X-7:  Is the requirement to report ‘annually’ appropriate here?  Do you recommend any other specific timeframe (e.g., bi- annually) and/or circumstance (e.g., major modifications to the mining or mineral processing operation, significant changes in technology, etc.) that should prompt a public report?

Chapter 1.4: Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  Minor modifications were made to the ‘Background’ and ‘Scope of Application’ sections, and several requirements were moved into new criteria to be more consistent with other chapters. 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • We made it more explicit in the Scope of Application that while workers’ grievances may be dealt with through the same mechanism that is used to deal with broader stakeholder (i.e., community members, NGOs, rights holders), they also may have a separate mechanism to deal explicitly with workplace grievances. Where the latter is the case, workers and workplace grievance procedures should not have bearing on the outcome of the requirements of this chapter, but rather be evaluated under Chapter 3.1.
  • We added a requirement that entities proactively inform stakeholders of how to file a grievance, because if this is not shared with some stakeholders (e.g., those who are illiterate) and the entity only relies on the fact that its procedures are publicly available, it could be a barrier to their using the mechanism. See requirement 1.4.1.2.b.
  • We changed a requirement that relevant personnel be informed of grievance procedures to demonstrating understanding of them and receiving training if necessary. This was done because if staff do not know about or understand the mechanism then they may not implement the procedures appropriately or effectively. See requirement 1.4.2.3.
  • We changed the time-dependent requirement that stakeholders participate in the design of the grievance mechanism. Modified language to clarify that this does not have to occur when the mechanism is first created but can happen at any time to improve the design and make it more effective and accessible to the stakeholders. See requirement 1.4.3.3.
  • Questions were received on whether the reporting requirement in the 2018 Mining Standard meant that companies had to report back to individuals on their own grievance, or report to stakeholders more generally on all of the grievances received and how they were handled. The intent was that both should be occurring, so we have separated the original requirement into two separate requirements. See criterion 1.4.4.

1.4.1: Access to Operational-Level Grievance Mechanism

Stakeholders, including affected community members, rights holders, and others (hereafter referred to collectively as “stakeholders”) have access to an operational-level mechanism that allows them to raise and seek resolution or remedy for the range of complaints and grievances (hereafter referred to collectively as “grievances”) that may occur in relation to the operation or the entity's actions.

NOTE ON 1.4.1.1:  We specified that both ‘complaints’ and ‘grievances’ would be referred to as grievances hereafter to reduce confusion about the relationship between the terms and IRMA’s dealing with them. This is now also explained in the ‘background’ section at the outset of this chapter.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.4-1

Background:  Requirement 1.4.1.1 was a critical requirement in the 2018 Mining Standard and is currently a critical requirement (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

One of the issues that has arisen is that there may be a mechanism in place that allows grievances to be filed and addressed, but the mechanism may not be considered as entirely effective by some stakeholders. 

Question: Should the critical element simply be that there is a mechanism that allows stakeholders to raise and seek remedy for their grievances, or should we add additional expectations to this critical requirement that speak to the quality and/or effectiveness of the mechanism? For example, we could add the content of (non-critical) requirement 1.4.2.1 to this (critical) requirement. 

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.4-2

Background:  Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’ includes a range of requirements surrounding the existence of an accessible and effective operational-level grievance mechanism. It is not possible to score well on Chapter 1.4 if the mechanism does not have certain quality-related characteristics. Other chapters (i.e., human rights, gender, resettlement, security, ASM) also have requirements relating to the existence of a grievance mechanism; however, the requirements in each of those chapters ask only that a mechanism is in place that allows grievances to be filed and addressed, but they do not speak to the overall quality of that mechanism. This is an approach proposed by IRMA to avoid too much repetition across chapters. However, this creates a situation in which an entity could theoretically score ‘fully meets’ on the grievance-related requirement in an individual chapter (which in most cases only asks that stakeholders have “access to” a grievance mechanism), even if the grievance mechanism as a whole is not an effective one (as reflected in the overall score for Chapter 1.4). 

Question:  Should an entity’s score on grievance-related requirements within individual non-grievance-specific chapters be restrained or linked to the overall score that the entity gets on the grievance chapter (Chapter 1.4) as a whole? 

For example, if a site scores 80% on Chapter 1.4, the most the site could receive for a grievance requirement in the other chapters would be a ‘substantially meets,’ but if a site scores 100% on Chapter 1.4 then, assuming the mechanism can handle grievances specific to the other chapters, they could possibly get a ‘fully meets’ rating on those grievance requirements.

Stakeholders are informed, in a manner appropriate to their circumstances:
  1. Of the existence of the operational-level grievance mechanism and its procedures;
  2. How to file a grievance; and
  3. That using the operational-level grievance mechanism does not preclude them from seeking redress related to grievances through administrative, judicial, or non-judicial remedies.

NOTE ON 1.4.1.2:  REVISED. We moved this requirement up from the ‘communications’ criterion (formerly criterion 1.4.5, which no longer exists) for consistency with the structure of other chapters. 

The words “in a manner appropriate to their circumstances,” were added to address the fact that affected communities may need to be informed in person, in local languages, etc., whereas regional NGOs or others may be fine receiving an email about the mechanism.

Sub-requirement (b) is NEW. It has been added so that proactive steps are taken to make sure stakeholders not only know that a mechanism exists but are informed of how to file a grievance. This would be especially important for stakeholders who are not literate (i.e., the public availability of written procedures required in 1.4.2.2 will not be useful to them). 

Sub-requirement (c) is a modified version of requirement 1.4.5.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. But we are proposing that the entity be required to actively inform stakeholders that they can use the operational-level mechanism and also make use of other mechanisms if they so choose. Instead of requiring entities to actively inform, this requirement in the 2018 Mining Standard simply prohibited the entity from telling stakeholders that they were not allowed to use other mechanisms, which was very difficult to audit as it required auditors to look for the absence, rather than the presence, of something.  

1.4.2: Grievance Mechanism Procedures

The grievance mechanism is underpinned by a grievance procedure (or equivalent) that:
  1. Outlines how grievances and communications with those filing grievances are tracked, recorded, acknowledged, investigated, and equitably resolved, including general timeframes for each phase of the process;
  2. Explains how the confidentiality of a complainant’s identity will be protected, if requested by the complainant;
  3. Outlines how complainants can file anonymous grievances;
  4. Explains how the entity will assist those who may face barriers to using the operational-level grievance mechanism, different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups, and outlines how stakeholders can request such assistance;
  5. Explicitly states that participation in an operational level grievance mechanism does not preclude a complainant from seeking redress through administrative, judicial, or other non-judicial remedies, and that no remedy provided by an operational-level grievance mechanism requires or implies that complainants waive their right to seek recourse for the same grievance through other available mechanisms; and
  6. Lists options for recourse if a complainant does not find the resolution of their grievance satisfactory and/or if the mechanism is deemed inadequate or inappropriate for handling grievances relating to potential serious human rights abuses.

NOTE ON 1.4.2.1:  REVISED. We moved reference to the effectiveness criteria outlined in Principle 31 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (which include the need for the mechanism to be: (a) Legitimate, (b) Accessible, (c) Predictable, (d) Equitable, (e) Transparent, (f) Rights-compatible, (g) A source of continuous learning, and (h) Based on engagement and dialogue, to the guidance notes, as the chapter itself has been designed to incorporate these effectiveness criteria. 

We also removed the element that consultation had to occur in the design of the mechanism, because that implied that it would have needed to happen prior to or during the initial development of the mechanism itself. The primary intent is that stakeholders have a say in the grievance mechanism and its procedures to improve its effectiveness. We cover that by requiring that there are clear opportunities to improve the mechanism (1.4.3.2). 

We combined previous sub-requirements (a) and (b) as they both referred to the administrative side of tracking and responding to grievances. 

We added sub-requirement (e) we added text explicitly requiring the entity to state in writing that participation in grievance processes does not require waiving rights to recourse elsewhere for the same grievance. In the 2018 Mining Standard it was stated in 1.4.3.1 that this must be the practice (and in 1.4.5.2. that the entity cannot state the contrary in communications with stakeholders), but absent evidence to the contrary (i.e., stakeholders reporting that they were told they could not seek recourse elsewhere) or evidence that recourse had been successfully sought (i.e., evidence that in practice it occurred), there was nothing to audit. Moreover, without an obligation to explicitly inform stakeholders of this option, they may have not known it was available and therefore not attempted to avail themselves of it for that reason, which again is difficult to identify and therefore audit. 

We added sub-requirement (f) that requires entities to explicitly inform stakeholders of their options for external resource, pursuant to sub-requirement (e).

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.4-3:  Stakeholder feedback suggested that an independent third-party should be involved in the assessment of more grievances to ensure that resolutions are unbiased, impartial, and fair to all parties involved. Is this considered best practice and, if so, is it applicable to only the most serious grievances or to all grievances?  

Grievance procedures are publicly available in languages and formats that are understandable to stakeholders who may be affected by the project/operation.

NOTE ON 1.4.2.2:  REVISED. We added language that this must be communicated in language and formats that are understandable to stakeholders. 

Relevant personnel (including entity employees as well as contractors) who interact with stakeholders are informed of and understand the proper procedures for handling stakeholder grievances, and personnel directly involved in the operational-level mechanism receive training on the respectful and equitable handling of all grievances, including those that may appear frivolous.

NOTE ON 1.4.2.3:  REVISED. This requirement was previously under criterion 1.4.5 “Communications” (in the 2018 Mining Standard). We are proposing to move it to this criterion (‘Grievance Mechanism Procedures’) to increase consistency with other chapters and changed language from relevant personnel being informed of grievance procedures to demonstrating understanding of, and receiving training on, these procedures.

1.4.3: Monitoring and Evaluation

NOTE ON 1.4.3:   The previous criterion 1.4.3 “Access to Other Remedy Mechanisms” from the 2018 Mining Standard and requirement 1.4.3.1 (recourse to other mechanisms) are now part of requirement 1.4.1.1 and criterion 1.4.2.

Records are kept of:
  1. All grievances received, including those received verbally, anonymously, etc.;
  2. Communications with the complainant; and
  3. Final outcomes and any remedies.

NOTE ON 1.4.3.1:  REVISED. This was requirement 1.4.4.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We divided it into sub-requirements and added language to indicate that all grievances (including those submitted verbally and anonymously) must be documented. Also added that record of communications with complainants must also be kept. 

We will add guidance notes on what we mean by outcomes versus remedies, i.e., outcome is the result of any investigation into the grievance (e.g., does the grievance have merit) and remedy is what occurs if the grievance is substantiated (i.e., the actions taken by the entity to resolve the grievance, which could be mitigation of some type, compensation, an apology, or another action to settle the matter). If the grievance is related to an infringement of human rights, the remedy must align with the remedy expectations in Chapter 1.3 (Human Rights Due Diligence).

The entity periodically monitors and evaluates the performance of the operational-level grievance mechanism over time to determine:
  1. If changes need to be made to improve its effectiveness as per 1.4.2.1.a;
  2. If changes in entity activities can be implemented to prevent or mitigate similar grievances in the future; and
  3. If outcomes and remedies provided through the mechanism accord with internationally recognized human rights.

NOTE ON 1.4.3.2:  This was 1.4.4.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

Periodically, stakeholders are:
  1. Provided with clearly communicated opportunities to provide input on how to make grievance mechanism(s) more effective, trusted, and accessible to all stakeholders; and
  2. Receive feedback on how their input was taken into account.

NOTE ON 1.4.3.3:  Added “periodically” so that it is not assumed this is a one-time solicitation for feedback. We also added sub-requirement (b) obligating entities to provide feedback to stakeholders on how their suggestions on improving the mechanism were taken into account.

1.4.4: Communication and Reporting on Grievances

Unless grievances are filed anonymously, stakeholders filing grievances are informed, either in writing or verbally with documentation of the exchange, how the grievance was addressed.

NOTE ON 1.4.4.1:  REVISED. This was 1.4.6.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard.  IRMA received feedback that it was not clear if that requirement referred to reporting back to individual stakeholders on their grievances or reporting to stakeholders on grievances more generally. Therefore, we specified in 1.4.4.1. that entities report back directly to the affected stakeholders and created a new 1.4.4.2, below, to address general reporting on grievances.  

At least annually, relevant internal and external stakeholders are provided with reports on pertinent trends and lessons learned from grievances received and the responses provided. This is done in a manner that protects the confidentiality and safety of those filing grievances.

NOTE ON 1.4.4.2:  NEW.  See note for 1.4.4.1. 

Chapter 1.5: Financial Transparency and Anti-Corruption

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  We are proposing to change the name of this chapter (it was Revenue and Payments Transparency), to better reflect the breadth and intent of the requirements. 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • Combined a number of requirements related to payments transparency (see criterion 1.5.1)
  • Expanded expectations related to anti-corruption policy and procedures (1.5.3.1, 1.5.3.2), and added some reporting requirements (1.5.3.4)

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.5-1

Background:  At this time, it does not appear that disclosures of revenues and payments to governments is a widespread best practice for stand-alone mineral processing facilities. The EU Accounting Directive, cited in the IRMA mining standard, does not appear to apply to smelters and refineries.  The Directive applies to entities active in the extractive industry (or logging of primary forests), and extractive industry entities are defined as being involved in the exploration, prospection, discovery, development and extraction of minerals. . . “  Smelting and refining are categorized as Manufacturing under EU rules. 

Similarly, Canada’s disclosure law does not include payments related to mineral processing unless the activity is integrated into extractive operations.

Looking at EITI country reports, however, it does seem like companies that only carry out smelting (not mining) do report, which suggests that EITI does not exclude smelting and refining from its disclosure standard (although it is unclear if all EITI-implementing countries include mineral processing facilities in their implementation of EITI). 

Question:  Should IRMA require that standalone mineral processing facilities engaged with IRMA publicly report the revenues and payments paid to government? 

1.5.1: Financial Transparency

NOTE FOR 1.5.1:  This criterion combines several criteria from the 2018 Mining Standard, all of which contained elements related to financial transparency (1.4.1 ‘Disclosure of Country-Level Payments’, 1.5.2 ‘Disclosure of Project-Level Payments’, 1.5.4 ‘Operating Company Transparency’). We are proposing to simply this by listing all of the relevant requirements under this new criterion heading.

Annually, all material payments made by the entity and its corporate owner to the host country government are disclosed as follows:
  1. Reports are made public within 12 months after the end of each financial year in which payments occurred;
  2. Reports are readily accessible to the public;
  3. All material payments are broken down by recipient government body (where applicable), and payment type (see 1.5.1.1.c); and
  4. The types of payment disclosed shall include as a minimum, as applicable:
    1. The host government’s production entitlement;
    2. National state-owned enterprise production entitlement;
    3. Taxes on income, production, or profits of companies;
    4. Royalties;
    5. Dividends;
    6. Bonuses, such as signature, discovery, and production bonuses;
    7. License fees, rental fees, entry fees and other considerations for licenses and/or concessions;
    8. Payments for infrastructure improvements; and
    9. Any other significant payments and material benefits to government, including in-kind payments.

NOTE FOR 1.5.1.1:  REVISED. Previously, criterion 1.5.1 was divided into four separate requirements. In an effort to simplify and add clarity to this requirement, all expectations related to the publication of a report on payments to host country governments have been consolidated into one requirement here. 

Also, we removed references to the EU Accounting and Transparency Directives and other mandatory transparency regimes from the requirement text. The rationale is that instead of referring to a single regulatory approach to transparency, we are proposing to focus on the best practices for what information is expected to be published. The types of payments listed are consistent with what is in the EU directives and in other similar laws. 

This new approach should not have any ramification for how the requirement is audited. For the 2018 Mining Standard, IRMA expected auditors to verify that the various types of information were being published, and the same will apply to this requirement.

1.5.1.1.d.iii has been revised slightly. In the 2018 Standard it referred to ‘Profit Taxes’, but as per EU Accounting Directive 2013/34/EU, Article 41, tax-related payments that should be reported include “taxes levied on the income, production or profits of companies, excluding taxes levied on consumption such as value added taxes, personal income taxes or sales taxes.”

Annually, the following project-level information is disclosed as follows:
  1. Information is made public within 12 months after the end of each financial year in which activities and payments occurred;
  2. Information is readily accessible to the public; and
  3. Project-level information includes:
    1. Production of minerals and/or metals, disaggregated by product type and mass;
    2. Revenues from sales, disaggregated by product type;
    3. Payments and other material benefits to government as listed in requirement 1.5.1.1.d, disaggregated according to the receiving government entity (e.g., national, regional, local entity; name of government department);
    4. Social expenditures, including the names and functions of beneficiaries;
    5. Taxes, tariffs, or other specific payments related to transportation of minerals;
    6. Payments by the entity or its corporate owner to politicians’ campaigns, political parties or related organizations in relevant project-level jurisdictions (i.e., the local, regional, and national level);
    7. Facilitation payments made to public or government officials (when operating in countries where such payments are legal); and
    8. Fines or other similar penalties.

NOTE FOR 1.5.1.2:  The expectations in this requirement were found in criterion 1.5.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Two separate requirements in that criterion that have been consolidated here. The reference to EU Directive 2013/34/EU has been removed. Although that directive covers some site-level transparency issues, those adhering to that directive may need to disclose additional data to meet the IRMA requirement.

A footnote has been added to make it clear that “project-level,” in some cases, may be defined more broadly than a single project or operation, depending on the host country’s basis for how payments are made to the government. This aligns with EITI’s approach.

Sub-requirement 1.5.2.1.c.i was 1.5.2.2.a in the 2018 Mining Standard. It required reporting of mine production, disaggregated by product type and volume. We are proposing to revise this to “production of minerals and/or metals” to make this also applicable to mineral processing sites. We have also replaced volume with mass, as that is the typical way that production is reported (e.g., as tonnes, ounces, pounds, carats, etc., rather than on a volume basis).

More detail was added to 1.5.2.1.c.vi (previously 1.5.2.2.f), to make it clear that these are payments in any relevant jurisdictions within the host country (local, regional, and national) where the project/operation is located.

1.5.2.1.c.vii is NEW. It has been added to align with ICMM’s Performance Expectation 1.2, which requires that companies “. . .publicly disclose facilitation payments.” We have clarified, however, that this be disclosed for countries where such payments are legal. Where such payments are illegal, it is unlikely that any entity is going to willing disclose such payments publicly, as it will incriminate them. If an auditor determines that illegal facilitation payments are occurring, then that should be reflected in the ratings in Chapter 1.1 Legal Compliance. 

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.5-2:  Requirement 1.5.2.1.e has been adapted for mineral processing sites; however, it is not clear if taxes on feed materials are paid by mineral processing sites or by the mines.  Do you have any input on whether or not such taxes are paid?

The entity adheres to international accounting standards.

NOTE:  This was 1.4.2.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.5-3:  Should IRMA require that financial statements be audited by credible third-party experts (e.g., certified public accountants) to provide added assurance that they entity is adhering to international accounting standards?

The material terms for mineral exploration, development and production agreed between the entity or its corporate owner and government entities are freely and publicly available, with the exception of confidential business information, in the national language(s) of the country in which the project/operation is located.
  1. Where these terms are negotiated, rather than governed by law, the entity makes the relevant agreements, licenses, or contracts freely and publicly available; or
  2. Where these terms are governed by law, free, public access to the relevant statutory documentation is deemed sufficient to meet the IRMA requirement.

NOTE FOR 1.5.1.4:  This was 1.5.4.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

Information on the beneficial owners of the entity(ies) that bid for, operate or invest in extractive assets, including the identity(ies) of their beneficial owner(s) are made publicly available, including:
  1. Names;
  2. Nationality;
  3. Country of residence; and
  4. The level of ownership and details about how ownership or control is exerted.

NOTE FOR 1.5.1.5:  REVISED. This was 1.5.4.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We are proposing to revise the requirement to be more specific regarding the information on beneficial owners that is made publicly available, i.e., names, nationalities and country of residence. This addition is based on the requirements of the 2016 EITI Standard. It provides more clarity that the information published goes beyond just the names of the beneficial owners.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.5-4:  

Background:  IRMA’s definition of beneficial owner aligns with both EITI and the FATF. However, the definition leaves room for interpretation, and has the potential to lead to disagreements between entities and auditors and stakeholders regarding whether all beneficial owners have been disclosed.

Where government regulations have elaborated on beneficial owners, or where an EITI multi-stakeholder process has agreed on what constitutes a beneficial owner for the purposes of disclosure, IRMA is considering recommending that entities use those definitions as the basis for their reporting. However, not all jurisdictions have laws that define beneficial ownership, and/or not all countries have EITI processes.

Thus, IRMA is seeking input on what ownership thresholds or other factors should be included to guide entities when there are no legal or multi-stakeholder-agreed criteria for what constitutes a beneficial owner.

Question:  Do you have any suggestions on the criteria for who should be considered a beneficial owner, such as ownership thresholds (e.g., those who hold more than 10% of shares) or a certain % of voting rights, or those who have other means of exercising control over the entity such as appointing or firing members of governing bodies, etc.

1.5.2: Support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

The entity supports the EITI in the following manner:
  1. If the project/operation is located in a country without a mandated transparency regime, the entity publishes a clear public statement endorsing the EITI Principles on its external website; and
  2. If the project/operation is located in a country where EITI is active, the entity engages constructively with and supports implementation of the EITI consistent with the multi-stakeholder process adopted in that country.

NOTE FOR 1.5.2.1:  REVISED. Requirements 1.5.3.1 and 1.5.3.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard have been combined. We removed reference to company forms.

1.5.3: Addressing Corruption and Unethical Behavior

NOTE FOR 1.5.3:  Minor change in name from ‘Anti-Corruption Measures’ to ‘Addressing Corruption and Unethical Behavior’.

We are proposing to define corruption as:
Any unlawful or improper behavior that seeks to gain a private advantage through illegitimate means. Any kind of bribery is a form of corruption; but corruption also includes abuse of power, extortion, fraud, deception, collusion, cartels, embezzlement, and money laundering.

An anti-corruption (or equivalent) policy:
  1. Outline’s the entity’s commitment to preventing, detecting and addressing corruption and bribery by the entity’s employees, contractors, and third parties such as agents, intermediaries, suppliers, and joint venture partners (hereafter referred to as “business partners”);
  2. Is approved at the most senior level of the entity; and
  3. Is communicated to all workers, contractors, and business partners.

NOTE FOR 1.5.5.1:  REVISED. This was requirement 1.5.5.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We have revised the wording of this requirement. Instead of a requirement to prohibit bribery and corruption (which is addressed to some extent in 1.4.3.2.a), we are proposing that the policy be more comprehensive, and include a commitment from the highest level of the entity to prevent, detect and address bribery and corruption. 

Sub-requirement (c) has been added because workers, contractors and business partners all need to be aware of the policy so that they understand the entity’s approach to bribery and corruption, and any expected behavior on their part.

Also, in the 2018 Mining Standard the requirement included both policies and procedures. We are proposing to create two separate requirements – this one, which addresses the higher-level policy, and 1.5.3.2, below, on the procedures, which has much more detail that what was in the 2018 Standard. For now, we are keeping the policy as the critical requirement (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

Anti-corruption procedures are in place and implemented that outline the internal controls to prevent, detect and address corruption, bribery, and other unethical behavior. At minimum, the procedures include:
  1. Prohibited actions (e.g., corruption, including bribery, extortion, money laundering, attempts to gain undue influence, illegal facilitation payments, etc.);
  2. Criteria for behaviors that may be deemed acceptable under certain circumstances, and approval processes related to:
    1. The offer of and acceptance of financial and in-kind gifts, including hospitality, entertainment, and travel (to and from employees, contractors, third-parties and business partners);
    2. Political contributions;
    3. Charitable contributions and sponsorships; and
    4. Legal facilitation payments;
  3. Protections including non-retaliation for whistleblowers and employees and contractors who raise concerns about suspected corruption or unacceptable behavior associated with the project/operation, or who refuse to pay bribes even if such refusal results in the loss of business;
  4. Internal reporting and recording of:
    1. Approved gifts, contributions and payments given to or received from employees, contractors, third-parties and business partners; and
    2. Unapproved or undue financial or other advantage given to or received from employees, contractors, third-parties and business partners;
  5. Investigation of alleged corruption or unacceptable behavior that contravenes the entity’s anti-corruption policy or procedures; and
  6. Disciplinary actions to be taken if corruption or unacceptable behavior is confirmed.

NOTE FOR 1.5.3.2:  REVISED. Combined 1.5.5.1 and 1.5.5.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard, as both requirements referred to procedures to combat corruption. The list of elements to include in the procedure has been expanded based on a gap analysis with other related standards – parts of sub-requirement (a), (b) and (c) are from ResponsibleSteel, parts of (b), (c), (d) and (e) are from Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices.

Relevant employees and contractors receive training on the anti-corruption procedures.

NOTE FOR 1.5.3.3:  REVISED. This was requirement 1.5.5.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

On an annual basis, the entity reports:
  1. Total number and nature of confirmed incidents of corruption or other unacceptable behavior related to the project/operation;
  2. Total number of confirmed incidents in which the project’s/operation’s employees were dismissed or disciplined for corruption or other unacceptable behavior;
  3. Total number of confirmed incidents where the project’s/operation’s contracts with contractors or business partners were terminated or not renewed due to violations of the entity’s anti-corruption policy and procedures; and
  4. Public legal cases regarding corruption brought against the company or its employees during the reporting period and the outcomes of such cases.

NOTE FOR 1.5.3.4:  NEW.  In the 2018 Mining Standard, there were no expected reporting or disclosure requirements related to anti-corruption. We are proposing to add this to align with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) requirements on reporting of corruption incidents.

Chapter 2.1: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Management

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  The chapter has notable changes compared to the 2018 Mining Standard. We are proposing to remove the flag from this chapter. The flag related to the potential to be audited against the IFC Performance Standard 1, which addresses the assessment and management of environmental and social risks. We did not receive any comments from self-assessing mines, mines going through independent assessment, or stakeholders that they would prefer to see entities assessed against the IFC’s requirements. 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • Given that this standard aims to cover expectations from exploration through post-closure, we are proposing to add some exploration-specific requirements – in particular, a new criterion related to screening for exploration projects only (see 2.1.1). The Scope of Application section outlines the different expectations for different types of projects and operations.
  • The process of environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) is often mandated by host country regulatory agencies, but the regulatory requirements may vary greatly from one jurisdiction to the next. In this chapter, IRMA aims to outline best practice expectations for ESIA. We have added a requirement that where regulatory requirements exist, that entities compare the regulatory expectations with IRMA requirements, so that they understand where the gaps are, and can work to fill them (2.1.2.2).
  • We have added in requirements that require entities to consider nature-based solutions, opportunities for circularity and climate adaptation when developing strategies to mitigate social and environmental risks and options to promote positive impacts (2.1.3.2.c and 2.1.5.1.e).
  • We are proposing to remove the requirement for a formal Environmental and Social Management System (See discussion in 2.1.9. See CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-6)
  • In this version, we are proposing to include stakeholder engagement requirements within the individual criteria (i.e., ESIA components), so that it is clear within the flow of the ESIA process when stakeholder engagement is expected. This also is more consistent with other IRMA chapters.

2.1.1: Environmental and Social Impact Screening for Exploration Projects

NOTE FOR 2.1.1:  This is a NEW criterion. Given that this standard aims to cover expectations from exploration through post-closure, we are proposing to add some exploration-specific requirements. These will not be relevant for mineral development projects or operating sites. The potential impacts related to some exploration projects, especially those at their earliest stages, may not be significant enough to warrant an in-depth ESIA, but some analysis of potential impacts should still be done. Thus, we are proposing a screening process for exploration projects.

Depending on the outcome of the screening process (2.1.1.2), an exploration project may or may not have to proceed to a more comprehensive ESIA process (2.1.2 – 2.1.8). 

Note that exploration is underway, and new/additional exploration activities are proposed then the screening process would be expected to take place again. (See 2.1.1.1.c)

A screening process is undertaken to determine if a proposed exploration project is likely to have adverse environmental or social impacts that warrant undertaking an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA). The screening process:
  1. Commences after an exploration plan for the project has been sufficiently developed (see Annex 2.1-A);
  2. Is completed prior to commencing proposed exploration activities; and
  3. Is repeated or updated should the exploration plan be significantly revised.
he documented screening process includes:
  1. Identification of all potential adverse environmental and social impacts likely to be associated with the proposed exploration project; (see Annex 2.1-B for list of potential impacts to scope)
  2. Evaluation, based on a credible methodology, to determine which potential impacts are likely to be significant, or whether proposed activities are likely to have minimal or no impacts; and
  3. A defensible rationale as to why an ESIA is or is not warranted for the proposed exploration project.

NOTE FOR 2.1.1.2.a:   We are proposing that the types of issues to be screened during exploration are the same as those that would be scoped for a mineral development project. These are listed in Annex 2.1-B. And Annex 2.1-C provides an example for how a site might determine if further assessment is needed.

If a decision is made that an ESIA for the exploration project is not warranted:
  1. The rationale is made available to interested stakeholders; and
  2. An environmental and social management plan (or equivalent) is developed and implemented. The plan:
    1. Is developed by competent professionals;
    2. Outlines the specific mitigation actions that will be carried out to address the adverse environmental and social impacts, and the specific actions that will be taken to optimize positive environmental and social impacts;
    3. Includes appropriate performance criteria and indicators to enable evaluation of the effectiveness of mitigation measures over time;
    4. Assigns implementation of actions, or oversight of implementation, to responsible staff;
    5. Includes an implementation schedule; and
    6. Includes estimates of human resources and budget required and a financing plan to ensure that funding is available for the effective implementation of the plan.

NOTE FOR 2.1.1.3.b.i:  In some countries, the availability of suitably qualified and competent professionals may be extremely limited with respect to some adverse environmental and social impacts. IRMA expects the entity to undertake due diligence of the professionals it uses and have a plan for addressing any significant gaps in the professionals’ capacity (which in some cases may mean bringing in international experts). 

At the same time, IRMA wishes to prioritize the use of local (in-country) professionals wherever this is possible and promote the development of local capacity in the effective management of potential environmental and social issues. A potential trade-off therefore exists between developing local capacity and ensuring high quality studies to support effective environmental and social management.  

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-2:  How should IRMA balance the benefits of developing the capacity of local professionals (which may take much longer than the screening process for exploration projects) with the need to ensure the plan developed can effectively mitigate adverse environmental and social impacts? Should this be done by creating a new requirement related to local sourcing and capacity building in the context of the provision of goods and services by local (in-country) professionals and companies? 

2.1.2: Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Planning

An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process for a proposed exploration project or a proposed mining or mineral processing project (hereafter referred to as “project” or “proposed project”), or a proposed major modification to an existing operation (hereafter referred to as “modification” or “proposed modification”):
  1. Is completed prior to commencing any of the proposed site-disturbing activities; and
  2. Is undertaken again should the plans for a proposed project or proposed major modification be significantly revised.

NOTE FOR 2.1.2.1:  This combines two requirements from the 2018 Mining Standard (2.1.1.1 and 2.1.1.2).

In jurisdictions where an ESIA or similar process is government-prescribed and/or led by the government, the entity:
  1. Determines if the government process meets the requirements in this chapter; and
  2. Where the IRMA chapter goes beyond regulatory requirements, additional steps extraneous to the government process are taken by the entity to meet IRMA requirements unless expressly prohibited by host country law.

NOTE FOR 2.1.2.2:  This is a NEW requirement. In some jurisdictions ESIA processes are prescribed by governments or even led by them. We have heard from stakeholders that when this is the case, it is not clear whether entities also need to meet IRMA requirements that go beyond what the government requires. 

As per Chapter 1.1, IRMA expects that entities meet the laws in the jurisdictions where they are operating, and, in cases where IRMA Standard goes beyond host country law, entities are expected to meet those IRMA requirements (unless doing so is prohibited by law). So, for example, if IRMA describes content of an ESIA that is more comprehensive than what is being asked through host country regulations (e.g., perhaps the government only requires environmental assessment, and not an assessment of social impacts), IRMA would expect the entity to carry out the additional work to meet the IRMA requirements. The results of this additional work would not need to be included in the assessment completed to meet government regulations, but could be prepared as a complementary report or addendum to the host country report.

We are therefore proposing that in such situations the entity carry out a comparison between the governmental requirements and IRMA’s requirements, so that they can either demonstrate to auditors the IRMA expectations are being met through their regulatory requirements, or, where IRMA requirements go beyond, that actions have been taken to meet those IRMA requirements. 

The entity develops and implements a system to:
  1. Record all stakeholder comments received throughout the ESIA process; and
  2. Document how stakeholder comments are taken into account.

NOTE FOR 2.1.2.3:   This was 2.1.9.5 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

2.1.3: ESIA Scoping

NOTE FOR 2.1.3:  For IRMA’s purposes, we are proposing to use the following definition of scoping, however, if this term is confusing, we are open to reverting back to screening, or adopting another term altogether:

Scoping
A process of determining potential issues and impacts and producing information necessary to inform decision-making regarding whether additional evaluation and actions are necessary.

A process is undertaken to define the scope of the ESIA in terms of the environmental and social impacts and risks to be considered and appropriate temporal and spatial boundaries, which includes:
  1. Description of the proposed project/modification, including the geographic location, nature and duration of all on-site and off-site mining-related activities, including those at associated facilities;
  2. Stakeholder mapping to identify stakeholders and rights holders (hereafter, collectively referred to as “stakeholders”) who may be interested in and/or affected by the proposed project/modifications;
  3. A review of existing environmental and social baseline data for the project’s potential area of influence;
  4. Determination of the applicability of all the potential social and environmental impacts listed in Annex 2.1-B;
  5. A preliminary overview of potential environmental and social impacts and consideration of which impacts are likely to occur at the different stages of the proposed project life cycle, from pre-construction through closure, reclamation and post-closure);
  6. Consideration of whether the potential impacts are adverse or positive, direct impacts or indirect impacts, or if the project may contribute to cumulative impacts in its area of influence;
  7. Consideration of climate change within the life of the proposed project/modification (or longer, if relevant to post-closure risks related to waste disposal facilities and water management), including whether increasing temperatures and changing location, frequency, duration or severity of weather events, might affect the scope or magnitude of project-related social and environmental impacts;
  8. Consideration of legal requirements for closure and reclamation, and the preferences of affected communities regarding post-closure end-uses of facilities and affected lands (as established in 2.1.3.2.d);
  9. Consideration of differential impacts of the proposed project/modification on potentially vulnerable members of affected communities;
  10. Preliminary stakeholder engagement using reasonable and culturally appropriate efforts to inform potentially affected and interested stakeholders about the proposed project/modification. In particular, stakeholders to be informed include:
    1. Those who may be supportive of the proposed project/modification and those who may not be; and
    2. The full range of those potentially affected and interested by the proposed project/modification (e.g., different genders, age groups, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnic and religious affiliations, degree of vulnerability)
  11. Definition of a plan of study for the ESIA (approved by the regulator, if there is a legal requirement for an ESIA), including a description of the main steps of the ESIA process that will be carried out, the estimated timeline for the process, and the range of opportunities for stakeholder participation in the process.

NOTE FOR 2.1.3.1:  REVISED. The requirement combines three requirements from the 2018 Mining Standard (i.e., 2.1.2.2, 2.1.3.1 and 2.1.3.3). 2.1.3.1 was previously considered a critical requirement, and so we have retained that distinction here (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above). Other changes in 2.1.3.1 include:

  • In 2.1.3.1.a, we added that the description includes the locations of mining-related activities (off-site as well as on-site).
  • In 2.1.3.1.c we now refer to Annex 2.1-B, which contains a draft proposed list of social and environmental issues that need to be considered in the scoping process (see CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-3, below).
  • In 2.1.3.1.f we added that identification includes potential positive impacts as well as adverse.
  • 2.1.3.1.g replaces a previous sub-requirement to identify “potential impacts of extreme events.” Note that while 2.1.3.1.g focuses on how a changing climate might affect the breadth, magnitude and duration of project-related social and environmental impacts, Annex 2.1-B also includes scoping of the project’s contributions to climate change (i.e., what are the energy use requirements and greenhouse gas emissions of the proposed project).
  • 2.1.3.1.h.  We added here that in the determination of potential impacts the entity takes into consideration legal requirements and affected community preference related to the post-closure end-uses for mining/mineral processing-affected lands. The requirement to engage with stakeholders to obtain feedback on preferred post-closure end-uses is found in 2.1.3.2. In the 2018 Mining Standard and current standard there was/is an expectation in the reclamation and closure plan in Chapter 2.6 that the post-mining end-uses will have been discussed with stakeholders, but there was no requirement that laid out how and when such discussion should occur. This proposed addition, along with the requirement in 2.1.3.2.d, addresses that gap.
  • 2.1.3.1.i is new. In the 2018 Mining Standard differential impacts was mentioned in the guidance notes for this chapter, and this element is a requirement in other chapters (e.g., Chapter 1.3, 3.3), so we are proposing to include it here, as well.
  • 2.1.3.1.j was 2.1.2.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Previously, it said to inform potentially affected and interested stakeholders in potentially affected communities. We have added clarification that efforts should be made to reach a wide diversity of stakeholders, including those who may not be directly impacted but may have an interest in the development (e.g., NGOs such as environmental or human rights organizations, potential downstream purchasers, company shareholders), and those who may not appear to be supportive of the proposal. As per expectations in IRMA Chapter 1.2, all outreach efforts are expected to be culturally appropriate. However, we have reiterated that here, to ensure that it is noted and included in audits. 

We are proposing the following definition of culturally appropriate:
Refers to methods, formats, languages, and timing (e.g., of communications, interactions and provision of information) that are aligned with the cultural norms, practices and traditions of affected communities, rights holders and stakeholders.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-3

Background: We are proposing that all projects demonstrate that they have considered a comprehensive list of potential impacts during their scoping process. We posted a consultation question in the IRMA-Ready draft standard, and received support for the suggestion that we include such a list of issues that, at minimum, should always be considered during scoping. As a result, we developed a draft list of scoping questions based on the range of potential impacts included within the IRMA Standard (Annex 2.1-B). Every issue will not be relevant at every site, but the intention is that all should be considered during the scoping process, because if the questions are not asked, then it is possible that some potential impacts will be overlooked. 

Question:  Do you agree with the minimum list of issues that should be scoped for mineral development projects in Annex 2.1-B?  If not, are there particular issues/scoping questions that should be added or removed? Please provide a rationale for your suggestions. 

As part of the scoping process, stakeholders are provided the opportunity to:
  1. Review and comment (for a period of at least 60 days) on the proposed project/modification and preliminary list of potential impacts considered by the entity;
  2. Provide input on the potential impacts (adverse and positive) that are of greatest concern or significance to them;
  3. Provide input on options to avoid/prevent or mitigate potential adverse impacts and options to promote positive impacts; and
  4. Provide input on their preferences for post-closure end-uses of facilities and affected lands should the project/modifications go forward (feeds into 2.1.3.1.h).

NOTE FOR 2.1.3.2:  REVISED. Elements of this requirement were found in 2.1.9.1 (a) and (d) of the 2018 Mining Standard. They were moved here to keep all scoping-related requirements together.

Sub-requirement 2.1.3.2.c includes a first opportunity for stakeholders to discuss their thoughts on possible mitigation measures and strategies for optimizing positive impacts. 

Sub-requirement 2.1.3.2.d was added to align better with Chapter 2.6 (requirement 2.6.1.1.a)., which mentions that affected communities’ preferred post-mining end uses of facilities and affected lands inform the reclamation and closure plan. The ideal time to have these discussions is when there is still an opportunity to influence mine designs and mitigation strategies, so we have made it explicit that those discussions happen during the ESIA process. 

Scoping results in the identification and documentation of:
  1. The potential significant environmental and social impacts that require further assessment;
  2. The technically feasible alternatives to avoid or prevent significant adverse impacts (e.g., through changes in project designs, technologies, processes, siting of facilities), avoiding a priori assumptions about the alternatives;
  3. Options to mitigate significant adverse impacts in a manner that aligns with the mitigation hierarchy and aligns, to the extent possible, with affected communities’ preferences for post-reclamation end-uses of affected areas, and takes into consideration measure that:
    1. Provide nature-based solutions;
    2. Incorporate concepts of circularity; and
    3. Address adaptation to climate change (e.g., enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience, and reduce vulnerability of human, biological, and physical systems to climate change);
  4. Any existing social and environmental baseline data relevant to the area potentially affected by the proposed project/modification, and a gap analysis and plan, with timelines, to collect additional baseline data and conduct any additional studies or investigations needed to further understand and assess the potential impacts.

NOTE FOR 2.1.3.3:  REVISED. This was requirement 2.1.3.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

In 2.1.3.3.b, we added that when scoping options to prevent impacts, “a priori” assumptions should not be made regarding the alternatives. The Impact Assessment stage will go into greater analysis of the potential options to mitigate impacts after more information on the nature and scale of impacts is known. The options at this stage should be technically feasible, but factors such as cost should not automatically narrow the range of alternatives under consideration. As outlined by the World Bank Inspection Panel, alternatives should be “laid out in a systematic way, along with their economic, social, and environmental benefits and costs, so that judgments on optimal alternatives could be made with a full understanding of the trade-offs involved.” 

Sub-requirement 2.1.3.3.d was added to ensure that a plan is in place to document, in a comprehensive manner, all the necessary data collection and additional studies to be undertaken.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-4

Background:  In 2.1.3.3.c, we are proposing to expand the evaluation of measures to mitigate adverse impacts and optimize positive impacts to include several concepts, which are already being implemented to some degree at some sites. These are described below.

Nature-based solutions: In the past couple of years, IRMA has been engaged in discussions with the IUCN and other standards organizations on the topic of nature-based solutions. Nature-based solutions are actions taken to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural and modified ecosystems in a manner that addresses societal challenges, and benefits people and nature. 

This approach is compatible with the approach taken throughout the IRMA Standard. No matter what the topic area, the IRMA Standard outlines the expectation that mitigation strategies be developed in collaboration with affected communities and relevant stakeholders, with the intention that the outcomes will be more beneficial to those affected communities than if the entity were to act alone. 

The IUCN has developed an entire standard devoted to nature-base solutions. Rather than duplicate those requirements, we are proposing as part of this revision to at least integrate the concept of nature-based solutions as something to be considered. Interested entities or those already incorporating nature-based solutions have the option to be assessed against the full IUCN standard. For more on nature-based solutions and the IUCN Standard see: https://www.iucn.org/our-work/nature-based-solutions.

Circularity:  IRMA convened a working group on circularity, and through those discussions it was suggested that while concepts related to circularity can be applied throughout the life cycle, the most appropriate time to begin investigating circularity options is during feasibility studies (which typically overlap with and are connected to the ESIA through the ongoing exchange of data and analysis between the project engineers and environmental and social specialists), so that necessary technical elements can be incorporated into the project design. Because we do not have a chapter regarding feasibility studies, we are proposing to add a requirement here that options to incorporate circularity be examined at the ESIA stage. 

Circularity, in the context of mineral development, can embody many different things, from striving for zero waste or zero pollution systems, and closed-loop water and chemical management, to finding ways to re-use, recycle or re-purpose materials that might otherwise become waste (i.e., they become raw materials for other purposes), re-mining waste materials, creating energy from wastes, utilizing renewable energy sources, capturing carbon dioxide from wastes, sequestering carbon in wastes, prioritizing quality equipment to minimize turnover; etc. (see also the discussion of circularity in materials and waste management in Chapter 4.1, Note for 4.1.2, and CONSULTATION QUESTION 4.1-4).

Climate Adaptation:  IRMA has a chapter on greenhouse gas emissions and energy use (Chapter 4.5), which is focused on reduction of both emissions and energy use as a means to minimize a projects/operations’ contributions to climate change. However, there is currently a gap in the IRMA Standard related to proactive measures to understand and respond to climate change impacts that are already occurring and will continue to change over time. We have added requirements to scope the potential impacts of a changing climate in 2.1.3.1.g and 2.1.3.3.c. Sub-requirement 2.1.5.1.d.iii, below, is a complementary requirement to develop mitigation strategies that address climate change impacts identified in the scoping exercises.

We could, of course, develop an entire new chapter on this; however, at the present time, we believe that we can integrate it into the existing chapters.

Question:  Do you agree that the mitigation strategies investigated as part of the ESIA should include: 1) nature-based solutions; 2) circularity; 3) climate change/climate adaption? Why or why not? Do you have suggestions for other ways or places in the IRMA Standard that we might incorporate these concepts?

The entity prepares a report that:
  1. Summarizes the scoping findings from 2.1.3.1 to 2.1.3.3;
  2. Includes the description of the main steps of the ESIA process that will be carried out, the estimated timeline and the range of opportunities for stakeholder participation in the process;
  3. Contains the contact details for the person or team responsible for management of the ESIA; and
  4. Is publicly available electronically via the entity’s external web site, and in any other culturally appropriate formats, including local languages.

NOTE FOR 2.1.3.4:  REVISED. This was 2.1.2.2.  We added that this information not just be available on the company’s external web site but also in culturally appropriate formats (which may be hard copy) and locations. We also added that the report be in relevant local languages, as these may differ from official national languages.

2.1.4: Baseline Data Collection

Baseline data describing the prevailing social context (e.g., legal, socio-economic, human rights, political) and environmental context, and any additional studies identified during scoping (e.g., comprehensive field or laboratory testing programs) are collected or carried out:
  1. By competent professionals;
  2. Using credible methods; and
  3. With an appropriate level of detail to understand and assess the potential impacts of the proposed project/modification.

NOTE FOR 2.1.4.1:   REVISED. This combines 2.1.4.1 and 2.1.4.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard.  

We have added the sub-requirements (a) and (b) to be more consistent with other chapters (i.e., the expectation that all data collection and studies be carried out by competent professionals, using credible methods). Sub-requirement (c) was part of the original 2.1.4.1.

Note that existing baseline data are required to be reviewed as part of scoping (see requirement 2.1.3.1.c). The collection of primary baseline data by the entity may start as early as the exploration phase. Given that several years of data may be necessary to establish certain baseline conditions (e.g., water quality and quantity), beginning early can reduce delays in the ESIA process. 

The entity invites and, where possible, facilitates stakeholder participation in the collection of data for the ESIA.

NOTE FOR 2.1.4.2:   This was 2.1.9.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

2.1.5: ESIA Impact Analysis

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-5

Background:  Impact and risk assessments both typically begin by considering the range of potential impacts (or risks) posed by a project or activity. These potential impacts/risks are initially defined by the scoping process and refined during the ESIA process. For each potential impact, an evaluation of the significance is undertaken. Historically, risks were often not considered in the ESIA process, or were only briefly discussed in a qualitative narrative. In line with developing good practice, the significance of risks is now often evaluated in a similar way to potential impacts, and IRMA expects both impacts and risks to be considered in detail. 

Typically, the significance (or level of risk) is based on two elements:  1) the probability of occurrence (also sometimes referred to as likelihood) and 2) the severity of the consequences associated with each potential impact (or risk). Other factors such as magnitude, duration and spatial scale are often considered when defining severity of the consequences. 

A scale is created to reflect the range of probabilities and consequences. For example, probability might range from ‘very unlikely to occur’ to ‘certain to occur’ (with other levels in between), and consequences might range from ‘negligible’ to ‘severe’ (with other levels in between). 

The probability of occurrence and severity of consequences are usually set out in a matrix, the determination of the significance (or level of risk) is based on the combination of the ratings for the two elements, and usually results in an assigned significance (or risk level) such as: low, moderate, substantial, high (or low, medium, high, very high, extreme). See table below as an example.

Likelihood of occurrence
Very unlikely Not expected Likely Almost Certain Common
Consequence Severe  Moderate Substantial High High High
Major  Low Moderate Substantial Substantial High
Medium  Low Moderate Moderate Moderate Substantial
Minor  Low Low Moderate Moderate Moderate
Negligible  Low Low Low Low Low

Both how the ratings are assigned for probability and consequences, and the level at which a potential impact (or risk) is significant enough to warrant avoidance or mitigation/control actions can vary based on those carrying out the assessment, and this subjectivity concerns some stakeholders. 

Sometimes the rationales for assigning certain levels of significant (risk) or taking or not taking action are not transparent. Or sometimes stakeholders disagree with the ratings being assigned by the entity, for example an entity might think the potential consequences are moderate, while the stakeholders perceive the consequences as high.

Question:  What might be some ways to reduce stakeholder concerns about the subjectivity of impact/risk assessment processes?  Is it enough to be transparent about how the ratings are assigned?  Should stakeholders be invited to play a larger role in determining the methodology used and assigning ratings? 

An assessment appropriate to the nature and scale of the proposed project/modification and commensurate with the level of environmental and social risks and impacts, is carried out that:
  1. Evaluates and predicts in detail the characteristics of the significant environmental and social impacts identified during scoping, including differential impacts on different groups of stakeholders and rights holders;
  2. Evaluates options to optimize potential positive impacts;
  3. Evaluates the technically feasible alternatives to avoid/prevent significant adverse impacts (e.g., through changes in project designs, technologies, processes, siting of facilities ), avoiding a priori assumptions about the alternatives;
  4. Evaluates options to mitigate predicted significant adverse impacts that cannot be avoided/prevented in a manner that aligns with the reminder of the mitigation hierarchy, i.e., giving priority consideration to strategies that minimize impacts, followed by strategies available to restore conditions if impacts occur;
  5. Includes evaluation of strategies that:
    1. Provide nature-based solutions;
    2. Incorporate concepts of circularity; and
    3. Address adaptation to climate change (e.g., enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience, and reduce vulnerability of human, biological, and physical systems to climate change);
  6. Identifies significant adverse residual impacts that cannot be avoided, mitigated and for which restoration is not an option, and evaluates whether compensatory measures will be required to address the residual impacts and the nature and scope of such measures.

NOTE FOR 2.1.5.1:  REVISED. There are three new sub-requirements being proposed:

  • 2.1.5.1.b was added to clarify that ESIA look at positive impacts of proposed developments, as well as adverse impacts. 
  • 2.1.5.1.c was added for the same reasons it was added in scoping. See note for 2.1.3.3. 
  • 2.1.5.1.4 was added to incorporate emerging concepts of nature-based solutions, circularity and adaptation to climate change (see discussion in note for 2.1.3.3, and CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-4)
The entity consults with potentially affected stakeholders in the development of options to mitigate the potential impacts of the project/modification (2.1.5.1).

NOTE FOR 2.1.5.2:   This was 2.1.9.1.d in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

Prior to the release of a final ESIA report (2.1.6.1), stakeholders are provided the opportunity to review and provide feedback on (at a minimum):
  1. The draft impact assessment; and
  2. Conclusions and recommendations derived from the draft ESIA report, including the entity’s recommended strategies to prevent or otherwise mitigate impacts.

NOTE FOR 2.1.5.2 and 2.1.5.3:  Requirements 2.1.5.2 and 2.1.5.3 were 2.1.9.1.d and e, respectively, in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

2.1.6: ESIA Reporting and Disclosure

A draft and final ESIA report is prepared that includes, at minimum:
  1. A description of the proposed project/modification;
  2. Description of the alternatives considered to avoid/prevent all significant adverse impacts from the project, and alternatives to optimize positive impacts, along with a rationale (e.g., economic, technical, social and environmental) for recommending or rejecting certain alternatives;
  3. A description of baseline conditions and results of additional evaluations and studies;
  4. Detailed description of the direct impacts, indirect impacts, and cumulative impacts likely to result from the proposed project;
  5. Identification of the significant potential adverse impacts and significant opportunities for positive impacts;
  6. Description of the alternatives considered to avoid/prevent all significant adverse impacts from the project, and alternatives to optimize positive impacts, along with a rationale (e.g., economic, technical, social and environmental) for recommending or rejecting certain alternatives;
  7. Recommended measures to avoid/prevent and mitigate adverse impacts and optimize positive impacts;
  8. A summary of the public consultation process that was followed;
  9. A summary of the views and concerns expressed by stakeholders and how the concerns were taken into account;
  10. Names and affiliations of ESIA authors and others involved in technical studies;
  11. Appendices containing detailed and complete information on baseline conditions, evaluations and studies; and
  12. In the final report only, an addendum (or appropriate alternative) showing how feedback from stakeholders has been accommodated (or if not, the reason why).

NOTE FOR 2.1.6.1: REVISED. This incorporates material from 2.1.6.1 and 2.1.10.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

We added positive impacts to sub-requirements (e), (f) and (g).

Also, 2.1.6.1.b includes a requirement that the report include rationale/explanations for why certain alternatives that might prevent significant impacts have not been recommended/prioritized. The addition was made because IRMA has received input related to this particular requirement from various stakeholder sectors, including that: 1) entities should at least be required to justify why alternatives to prevent impacts were not selected, and 2) that selection of mitigation measures not be subject to cost considerations. 

Given that this chapter explicitly requires that the mitigation hierarchy be followed (i.e., that sites prioritize avoidance of impacts, and only if that is not possible, are other mitigation options of minimization, restoration and compensation considered), it is reasonable that entities be required to justify why certain impact avoidance/prevention operations were not selected.

Although we have not fully incorporated the suggestion that the selection of mitigation measures should not be subject to cost considerations, we have added in the scoping (2.1.3.3.b) and in ESIA impact assessment (2.1.5.1.c) that the consideration of the range of alternatives to prevent impacts not be narrowed due to “a priori” assumptions about those alternatives (see the note for 2.1.3.3.b for more information).

When it comes to the final section of a mitigation option, cost is only one factor that should be taken into consideration when evaluating mitigation approaches. The technical feasibility, and the environmental and social costs/benefits of different approaches must also be considered. We have added those elements to 2.1.6.1.f, as well.

The following are made public, and the means of accessing the information is communicated to stakeholders:
  1. ESIA final report;
  2. ESIA supporting data and studies; and
  3. An anonymized version of the stakeholder comments received during the ESIA process, and the entity’s responses to the comments.

NOTE FOR 2.1.6.2:   This incorporates material from 2.1.10.1, 2.1.10.2, and 2.1.10.5 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

2.1.7: Environmental and Social Impact Management

A relevant management plan or plans are developed and implemented to address all significant environmental and social impacts identified during the ESIA process. Any stand-alone environmental and social management plan:
  1. Is developed by competent professionals;
  2. Outlines the specific mitigation actions that will be carried out to address the adverse environmental and social impacts (including compensatory measures if required) and the specific actions that will be taken to optimize positive environmental and social impacts;
  3. Includes appropriate performance criteria and indicators to enable evaluation of the effectiveness of mitigation measures over time;
  4. Assigns implementation of actions, or oversight of implementation, to responsible staff;
  5. Includes an implementation schedule; and
  6. Includes estimates of human resources and budget required and a financing plan to ensure that funding is available for the effective implementation of the plan.

NOTE FOR 2.1.7.1:  REVISED. This aligns with 2.1.7.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard, which requires that mitigation actions be incorporated into a management plan. 

The elements to be included in the management plan have been expanded and to be more consistent with requirements in other IRMA chapters that refer to management plans.

We also allow that there can be a stand-alone management plan that contains all environmental and social issues, or the mitigation options can be integrated into the management plans referred to in other IRMA Standard chapters. 

2.1.8: Environmental and Social Impact Monitoring

All significant environmental and social impacts identified during the ESIA process are incorporated into a relevant monitoring program. Any stand-alone environmental and social monitoring program:
  1. Is developed and implemented to determine:
    1. The magnitude of impacts over time; and
    2. The effectiveness of mitigation measures based on performance against key criteria or indicators;
  2. Is designed and carried out by competent professionals; and
  3. Uses credible methods.

NOTE FOR 2.1.8.1:  REVISED. This was 2.1.8.1 and 2.1.8.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

The language has been adapted to be more consistent with the language in other chapters. We also added that the methods used must be credible (see proposed new definitions at the end of the chapter).

The entity provides for timely and effective stakeholder consultation, review and comment on the scope and design of the environmental and social monitoring program.

NOTE FOR 2.1.8.2:  This was 2.1.9.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

The entity encourages and, where possible, facilitates stakeholder participation in the implementation of the environmental and social monitoring program.

NOTE FOR 2.1.8.3:  This was 2.1.9.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

If requested by relevant stakeholders, the entity facilitates the independent monitoring of key impact indicators by competent professionals who have received appropriate site-specific health and safety orientation and training.

NOTE FOR 2.1.8.4:  REVISED. This was 2.1.8.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

The previous version added the caveat that independent monitoring be allowed “where this would not interfere with the safe operation of the project.” Given that all monitoring programs are to be designed by competent professionals, using credible methodologies, it is unlikely that any monitoring program would interfere with the safe operation of a mine or processing facility. However, the greater concern is that if those carrying out the independent monitoring are qualified to do so, and that they understand the site-related health and safety risks so that they can carry out their monitoring in a safe manner.

2.1.9: Ongoing Environmental and Social Due Diligence

NOTE FOR 2.1.9:  REVISED. Criterion 2.1.7 in the 2018 Mining Standard required that there be an Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS) and an environmental and social management plan in place. Management plans are addressed in 2.1.7, above. 

We are proposing in this version of the Standard to remove the requirement for a formal ESMS. The rationale for doing so is that it is not clear that a prescriptive requirement for an ESMS will result in better outcomes than what can be achieved by adhering to the requirements in the IRMA Standard as a whole. Also, developing and maintaining ESMS involves the investment of significant time and resources and can therefore present a barrier for smaller entities. 

We believe that on an issue-by-issue basis, the important elements of ESMS are integrated into each IRMA chapter. For example, most chapters include ongoing assessment of risks/impacts, development of mitigate measures, management plans, monitoring programs, and evaluation of effectiveness to ensure continuing improvement. Additionally, beyond most ESMS, IRMA chapters also require stakeholder engagement and external reporting/disclosure.

We are still providing the option for mines and mineral processing operations to have overarching environmental and social management plans (see 2.1.7) and overarching environmental and social monitoring programs (see 2.1.8) if that works better for their organization; however, in order to meet the expectations of other IRMA chapters, such overarching plans and monitoring programs would need to be quite detailed and comprehensive.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.1-6:  Do you agree with the proposal to remove ESMS as a requirement in the IRMA Standard?  If not, what are the specific benefits that you believe result from having ESMS in place?

An ongoing process is in place to identify and address environmental and social risks related to the operation throughout its life cycle as follows:
  1. When there are major modifications proposed to operations (e.g., new processes, facilities, extraction zones, etc.) a new ESIA process is initiated (go to 2.1.2); and
  2. Annually, a review of the social and environmental risks (Annex 2.1-B) associated with the current operation is undertaken. The review considers:
    1. Any minor changes to the operation (e.g., changes in management personnel, minor modifications to technologies or processes);
    2. Any changes in operating context (e.g., legal, social, political, human rights, economic, environmental) that have occurred in the past year; and
    3. Any updated knowledge related to climate change, including increased frequency, duration, or severity of weather events in the operating area.

NOTE FOR 2.1.9.1:  NEW. This replaces requirement 2.1.7.1 from the 2018 Mining Standard, which required that a system (e.g., an environmental and social management system) be developed and maintained to manage environmental and social risks and impacts throughout the life of the mine. 

As mentioned in the note for 2.1.9, above, we are proposing in this draft update to the IRMA Standard to remove the requirement for a formal ESMS. However, we are retaining the expectation that entities need to understand and manage their social and environmental risks and impacts on an ongoing basis, over the life of the project/operation. Just as human rights due diligence is an ongoing process (see Chapter 1.3), environmental and social due diligence should also be an ongoing process.

We are proposing that risks be evaluated every year. We do not envision that this review process will be onerous, once the first assessment is done (which may have been conducted as part of an ESIA). 

The annual or periodic assessment of some risks is already expected in numerous IRMA chapters, so it would simply be consolidating all risks into an operation-wide risk register (see 2.1.9.2).

In 2018 Mining Standard, IRMA developed a guidance note for the ESIA chapter, and a critical requirement was that, “The operating company shall demonstrate that it has undertaken a comprehensive evaluation of potential environmental and social impacts associated with the mining operation.” This requirement aligns with the intent of that requirement, and so we are proposing that it be a critical requirement in this proposed update to the Standard (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above).

A risk register (or equivalent) that documents the environmental and social risks associated with the operation and the measures in place to mitigate the risks is developed and updated on an annual basis.

NOTE FOR 2.1.9.2:  NEW. This was added because there needs to be a way to record and track the risks and mitigation/management measures.

When new social or environmental risks are identified, or there is the potential that the magnitude of risks to worker or community health, safety, human rights, or the environment have changed:
  1. Risks are further evaluated, using a credible methodology, to determine if they are significant enough to require mitigation;
  2. If necessary, additional baseline or other data are collected to inform the evaluation process; and
  3. If risks are deemed significant, mitigation strategies are developed and integrated into relevant management plans, and monitoring programs are updated accordingly.

NOTE FOR 2.1.9.3:  This aligns with 2.1.7.2 and 2.1.7.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard, which require that mitigation actions be incorporated into a management plan, and that the mitigation actions be monitored for effectiveness.

Requirement 2.1.9.1, above, outlines an annual review process to inform the entity’s understanding risks or changes to existing. Then, as necessary, new mitigation options are developed to address those risks as per 2.1.9.3. Rather than requiring an overarching plan for addressing new risks, we are allowing that the relevant risks be integrated into the management plans already required in the relevant IRMA chapters. For example, if new risks to water are identified, those could be integrated into the mine’s adaptive management plan for water as per Chapter 4.2.

Re: 2.1.9.3.b, if new risks emerge, it is possible that additional baseline or other data may need to be collected – especially if an ESIA was carried out in the distant past.

Chapter 2.2: Indigenous Peoples and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  We are proposing that the name of this chapter be revised from ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent’ to ‘Indigenous Peoples and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).’ The previous titled implied that the chapter was only about FPIC, and while the majority of the chapter does cover FPIC-related expectations it does also include ongoing engagement and other requirements beyond FPIC.

Proposed additions and changes:

  • The changes to this chapter have been informed by discussions with IRMA’s Expert Working Group on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The proposed addition of remedy (or equivalent) agreements that address past impacts, a requirement for community validation of agreements, need for specific reference to a grievance mechanism, and more detail on expectations regarding Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation were all added as a result of those discussions and input from working group members.
  • Other changes, such as capitalizing Indigenous Peoples throughout the chapter (and Standard) and moving the reference to Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation from the Cultural Heritage chapter (3.7) to this one, are editorial changes proposed by the IRMA Secretariat. 

PARTICIPATE IN AN EXPERT WORKING GROUP ON THIS CHAPTER

If you are interested in participating in an Expert Working Group on Indigenous Peoples and Free, Prior and Informed Consent, please contact IRMA’s Standards Director, Pierre De Pasquale (pdepasquale@responsiblemining.net).

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.2-1

Background:  It is unlikely that any community, anywhere, whether it be Indigenous or non-Indigenous, will unanimously support or unanimously oppose a large-scale industrial development such as a mine or processing facility. However, the working assumption within this chapter is that FPIC can still be achieved even if there is dissent from or dissatisfaction expressed by individuals within a community as long as the decision to grant consent is made by Indigenous Peoples’ own representative decision-making institutions, after a process that adheres to the principles of FPIC.

One challenge that is likely to be faced by auditors, however, is what to do if a company has obtained consent from a decision-making institution that is recognized by some of the Indigenous Peoples, but others in the community do not view those decision-making institutions as being representative. For example, this may happen in parts of the world where a governance structure was, at some point in time, imposed on the Indigenous Peoples by a colonial government of the country where the project is located. These governance structures may now have been in place for decades or even more than a century, and they may involve the Indigenous Peoples “choosing” or electing the representatives, but those elected may not be universally viewed by all affected Indigenous Peoples as legitimate representatives of their communities because that is not how leaders were traditionally chosen. There may be pre-existing (and sometimes competing) traditional decision-making structures, such as councils of elders, that are viewed by some as the sole legitimate representative structure. 

In other cases, for a host of historic and political reasons, an “historically imposed” governance structure may be the only functional representative institution, and while all members of a community may not view it as legitimate, there is no traditional governance structure that is intact, and communities have not had the capacity to design a collectively recognized and agreed governance structure.  

This latter situation has been recognized by the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
“Failure to engage with legitimate representatives of indigenous peoples can undermine any consent received. In the Declaration it is clear that States and third parties should consult and cooperate with indigenous peoples ‘through their own representative institutions’ (arts. 19 and 32) and ‘in accordance with their own procedures’ (art. 18). . . Yet, identifying the legitimate representatives of indigenous peoples can be challenging. States should be mindful of situations where indigenous peoples’ decision-making institutions have been undermined by colonialism and where communities have been dispersed, dispossessed of land or relocated, including to urban areas. . . It is important for States or third parties to ensure that institutions supporting indigenous peoples and claiming to represent them are so mandated.”

Question:  How might IRMA revise its standard to address the situations where 1) there is more than one decision-making structure that is considered legitimate by members of an affected population of Indigenous Peoples; or 2) where there is only one structure, but it is not considered legitimate by all members of the affected population of Indigenous Peoples.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.2-2

Background:  In IRMA’s Expert Working Group on FPIC there was a suggestion to expand the requirement for FPIC beyond Indigenous Peoples, to others, such as traditional or other communities that have prior legal or customary rights to land, vulnerable land connected peoples, etc.  In one of the FPIC working group discussions we provided examples of other standards that have extended the concept of FPIC to others (e.g., the World Bank’s inclusion of “Sub-Saharan African Historically Underserved Traditional Local Communities,” and the requirements in the Forest Stewardship Council and Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil standards. 

There was no consensus within the Expert Working Group on how to proceed. There was recognition that FPIC is an internationally recognized right of Indigenous Peoples that is grounded in a set of other fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples, such as their right to self-determination, the right to control and use ancestral lands and resources, the right to non-discrimination, the right to effective participation in public life, etc. Some suggested that if human rights of non-indigenous communities have been affected, that these could and should be recognized and addressed as part of an entity’s human rights due diligence (in IRMA Chapter 1.3 – ‘Human Rights Due Diligence’). Others thought that a subset of the FPIC principles could be applied to such communities (and perhaps included in IRMA Chapter 2.3 – ‘Obtaining Community Support and Delivering Benefits’).

Question:  Do you think IRMA should expand the requirement for FPIC, or some subset of FPIC principles, beyond Indigenous Peoples?  Put differently, do you think IRMA should require that entities obtain the FPIC of non-Indigenous Peoples prior to initiating a project? What is the basis for this opinion? And if you think that FPIC or a subset of FPIC requirements should apply beyond Indigenous Peoples, to whom should they apply and why (e.g., those with customary land rights, vulnerable land-connected peoples, historically underserved traditional local communities), and what sorts of requirements would you propose be included?

2.2.1: Policy Commitment

An Indigenous Peoples’ policy (or equivalent) is in place that includes a statement of the entity’s respect for Indigenous Peoples’ rights as set out in international law and policy frameworks including those affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The policy:
  1. Is approved at the most senior level of the entity; and
  2. Is publicly available and communicated to Indigenous Peoples who may be or are affected by the entity’s mining-related activities.

NOTE for 2.2.1.1. REVISED. Requirements 2.2.1.1 and 2.2.1.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard have been combined here to reflect consistency with other IRMA chapters. We added sub-requirements a and c to align with elements in policy requirements in other chapters.  

2.2.2: Due Diligence Related to State Obligations

The entity conducts due diligence to determine if the host government carried out an adequate consultation process aimed at obtaining Indigenous Peoples’ FPIC prior to granting access to mineral resources or lands for mineral development.
The entity makes available to affected Indigenous Peoples:
  1. Key findings of the due diligence assessment; and
  2. A justification for proceeding with the project/operation, if findings reveal that the host government failed to fulfill its duty to obtain the FPIC of Indigenous Peoples prior to granting access to mineral resources or lands for mineral development.

NOTE for 2.2.2.2:  REVISED. The language has been improved for clarity purposes, and the expectations have been separated out to make it clear that there are two elements: 1) carrying out the due diligence assessment, and 2) making the findings available to relevant stakeholders.

Additionally, previously the requirement was to make the findings publicly available, but we are proposing to change this to providing the due diligence to affected Indigenous Peoples from whom the entity is seeking FPIC. A public statement could create conflict between the entity and the government, or the government and Indigenous Peoples, which is not the intent of the due diligence. But this information is important for Indigenous Peoples as they decide whether or not they wish to proceed with an FPIC process. 

2.2.3: Identification of and Engagement with Indigenous Peoples

NOTE FOR 2.2.3:  This criterion was previously called ‘Free, Prior and Informed Consent Scoping.’ It has been changed because many of the elements below are not limited solely to informing FPIC. They will be necessary for longer-term engagement with Indigenous Peoples, more generally. For example, 2.2.3.1.c, below, refers to mapping and analysis of Indigenous Peoples communities. Understanding community dynamics and potentially affected vulnerable groups and individuals will be important to inform engagement strategies beyond any FPIC process.

The entity:
  1. Identifies Indigenous Peoples whose traditionally owned, occupied, or otherwise used or acquired lands, territories, and resources have been or may be affected by the entity’s mining-related activities;
  2. Consults with relevant Indigenous Peoples’ organizations or bodies, if they exist, and external experts and published sources to determine:
    1. If there are any Indigenous Peoples who have not been identified by the entity; and
    2. If there are any Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation or in initial contact who may be present in the area of the proposed or actual mineral development; and
  3. Carries out stakeholder/rights holder mapping and analysis (as per Chapter 1.2, requirement 1.2.1.1).

NOTE for 2.2.3.1:  REVISED. This combines the previous 2.2.3.1 and two NEW components.

Sub-requirement (b) is being proposed to ensure that external sources are consulted in the identification process, including any relevant Indigenous Peoples organization or bodies (e.g., associations or councils of Indigenous Peoples or Indigenous rights organizations active in the region of the proposed projects/operations), external experts (e.g., academics or governmental or non-governmental practitioners with cultural, anthropological, and/or human rights expertise in the region where proposed projects/operations are located), and published sources to determine if there may be populations of Indigenous Peoples who may not have been identified by the entity. This includes identification of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation (sometimes referred to as “uncontacted peoples”) and those living in initial contact (those who have very little interaction with the majority non-Indigenous society). This is of utmost concern given that the rights and survival of these peoples could be threatened given their situations of extreme vulnerability. 

While not globally pervasive, there are regions of the world where Indigenous Peoples continue to live in voluntary isolation or have little interaction with non-Indigenous society. For example, in 2013 it was reported that on the South American continent there were Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela, and also indications of their presence in Guyana and Suriname, near their respective borders with Brazil. In 2022, it was estimated that there were 185 distinct groups of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation in South America. Other uncontacted peoples have been reported in India and New Guinea, and it has been suggested that there may be others in Malaysia and Central Africa.

Sub-requirement (c) is being proposed to make it clear that, as per Chapter 1.2, which outlines expectations with respect to stakeholder and rights holder engagement, a mapping and analysis of potentially affected Indigenous Peoples is also required to understand the characteristics and vulnerabilities of potentially affected groups and individuals, and dynamics within those communities.

If the presence of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation or initial contact in the area is identified:
  1. The entity does not initiate contact with any potentially affected Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation or initial contact; and
  2. The entity consults with relevant Indigenous Peoples’ organizations or bodies, if they exist, and external experts to determine if the entity’s past, present or proposed activities are affecting or may affect the rights or wellbeing of those living in voluntary isolation or initial contact, and:
    1. If proposed activities may affect any Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation, the entity redesigns the project to avoid all such impacts, or, if avoidance is not possible, ceases to pursue the proposed activities; and/or
    2. If past or existing impacts on Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation are identified, the entity consults with representative bodies for Indigenous Peoples, and external experts to determine the appropriate remedial actions; and/or
    3. If past or proposed activities may affect any Indigenous Peoples living in initial contact, the entity consults with representative bodies for Indigenous Peoples, and cultural, anthropological, and/or human rights experts to determine whether and how engagement with these groups is appropriate; if it is determined that engagement is not appropriate, the entity proceeds with these groups as though they were Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation.

NOTE for 2.2.3.2:  This is a NEW requirement being proposed to address the situation where mines may or have affected Indigenous Peoples who are living in voluntary isolation (sometimes referred to as “uncontacted peoples”) and initial contact. 

If Indigenous Peoples (other than those in voluntary isolation) have engagement protocols in place, the entity follows the protocols. If no engagement protocols exist, the entity mutually agrees and documents, in a manner agreed to by Indigenous Peoples’ representatives, the engagement process to be followed. If there is more than one distinct group of Indigenous Peoples’ (e.g., nation, population) that may be affected by the entity’s mining-related activities, they may be included in a coordinated process or in separate engagement processes, as decided by the Indigenous Peoples.

NOTE for 2.2.3.3.  REVISED. In the 2018 Mining Standard, this was previously partially covered in 2.2.3.2.a. It has been separated out into its own requirement to make it clear that determining the appropriate engagement protocol is something that should be done early in the process. We added, as well, that following existing engagement protocols that have been developed by Indigenous Peoples is expected best practice, if such protocols exist. Previously this was only mentioned in IRMA guidance.

In a culturally appropriate manner, the entity discloses to affected and potentially affected Indigenous Peoples (other than those living in voluntary isolation):
  1. Information about proposed, ongoing and past mining-related activities, as relevant; and
  2. The right of Indigenous Peoples to FPIC.

NOTE for 2.2.3.4.  In the 2018 Mining Standard, this was 2.2.3.1.b. There are two expectations here, and so they have been separated into sub-requirements.

Through collaboration with Indigenous Peoples’ representatives and other relevant members of affected and potentially affected Indigenous Peoples, the entity:
  1. Identifies Indigenous Peoples’ rights (including customary rights) and interests that may be affected by proposed activities, are being affected by ongoing activities, and/or have been affected by past activities and have not yet been remediated;
  2. Identifies additional studies or assessments needed to determine the range and degree of potential or actual impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ rights or interests; and
  3. Identifies if there are capacity issues that may prevent:
    1. Full and informed participation of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives in the FPIC process; and
    2. Participation of potentially marginalized or vulnerable groups or individuals from the community in ongoing engagement processes.

NOTE for 2.2.3.5. REVISED. In the 2018 IRMA Standard, identifying and addressing participatory impediments were both part of requirement 2.2.3.2. The content of that requirement has now been divided into two requirements: 2.2.3.5, which focuses on identifying the various issues that need to be addressed so that Indigenous Peoples can participate fully in a process of FPIC (i.e., with the information needed and the capacity to do so), and 2.2.3.6, which is focused on addressing any gaps that need to be filled.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.2-3:  

Background:  There has been some confusion as to what exactly meant by the word interests in the phrase ‘rights and interests.’ Many United Nations reports and other documents refer to interests in various ways in relation to Indigenous Peoples, such as ‘environmental and social concerns and interests,’ ‘rights, interests and concerns of Indigenous Peoples,’ ‘Indigenous land rights and interests,’ and ‘strategic interests.’ The term ‘interests’ is also used in relation to other sectors, e.g., industry and community, often in relation to land.

Black’s law dictionary has a long definition of ‘interest,’ but it relates only to interest in property. We have not been able to find any definition or even an explanation of what the term interests might encapsulate in relation to Indigenous Peoples.

We are considering the following definition based on our research and general understanding of the term:

    Interest: 
A subject of concern; an advantage or benefit; an object or right in property in which one has a stake, share, or involvement; a specified common concern, especially in politics or business.

Question:  Are you aware of any sources that provide a definition or at least an explanation of what might constitute the interests of Indigenous Peoples? Is this something that IRMA should be concerned about? Or is are the interests of Indigenous Peoples simply something that will be expressed during discussions with the entity, and therefore not something that needs to be defined by IRMA?

The entity collaborates with Indigenous Peoples’ representatives to design and implement plans to address any information gaps and capacity needs identified in 2.2.3.5, including providing funding or other support that enables Indigenous Peoples to address capacity issues in their preferred manner.

NOTE for 2.2.3.6.  This was previously 2.2.3.4.e in the 2018 Mining Standard.  See note for 2.2.3.5. 

2.2.4: Processes for Reaching Agreements on Past Impacts and Seeking Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Proposed Activities

NOTE for 2.2.4:  This criterion has been renamed. It was called ‘Determine FPIC Processes’ in the 2018 Mining Standard. The new criterion also replaces a criterion called ‘Implement FPIC Process’ (the requirements from that criterion have been incorporated here). 

At operations where the FPIC of Indigenous Peoples was not previously obtained (by either the entity or a prior owner/operator) for activities that affected or are continuing to affect the rights or interests of those Indigenous Peoples:
  1. The entity, in collaboration with affected Indigenous Peoples’, develops, documents, and implements a mutually agreed remediation (or equivalent) process to obtain agreement on actions that will be taken provide remedy (e.g., mitigation, compensation, provision of benefits, etc.) for any past or ongoing unremediated impacts identified as per 2.2.3.5.a;
  2. If there are impacts on specific people, the process includes input from and remedy for these directly affected individuals; and
  3. The entity engages in the process, in good faith, until a remedy agreement (or equivalent) on actions to remedy any past and present unremediated impacts is reached.

NOTE for 2.2.4.1.  2.2.4.1 is NEW. In the 2018 Mining Standard, the Scope of Application section of Chapter 2.2 states that, “At existing mines, where FPIC was not obtained in the past, operating companies will be expected to demonstrate that they are operating in a manner that seeks to achieve the objectives of this chapter. For example, companies may demonstrate that they have the free, informed consent of Indigenous Peoples for current operations by providing evidence of signed or otherwise verified agreements, or, in the absence of agreements, demonstrate that they have a process in place to respond to past and present community concerns and to remedy and/or compensate for past impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and interests.” 

Because this information was contained in the Scope of Application and was not an actual requirement in the standard, it created the potential for inconsistent auditing and interpretation and what some stakeholders and rights holders considered to be a loophole in the IRMA Standard. 

The proposed 2.2.4.1 creates a normative requirement to describe the process that must be followed if FPIC was not obtained previously to initiating mining-related activities. While not FPIC, per se, because prior consent was not given for the activities, the requirement for agreement on remedy is now specifically part of this chapter. This proposal is the outcome of discussions of the Expert Working Group convened to discuss this chapter, and it is important to note that the signing of a remedy agreement is not the same as free, prior and informed consent, or even consent for ongoing activities, unless that is explicitly stated in the agreement.

The signing of remedy agreements has been proposed by others. For example, the Accountability Framework in their 2010 Operational Guidance on Free, Prior and Informed Consent states that “Where a company has caused or contributed to the appropriation of or harm to the lands, territories, or resources of IP/LC without first securing FPIC, a remediation process is required to address these past harms.”

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.2-4:  Until the IRMA Board approves changes to the standard (based on input gathered through global stakeholder consultations) IRMA is not making changes to critical requirements (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above). However, we would be interested in knowing if you believe this new requirement should be critical. Why or why not?

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.2-5:  There may be situations in which Indigenous Peoples do not wish to enter into or continue an agreement-making process. If this is the case, should the entity just score ‘does not meet’ (i.e., zero) on this requirement? Or could they get ‘partially meets’ or ‘substantially meets’ if they’ve made a good-faith effort even if no process is initiated due to Indigenous Peoples’ decision not to participate or if Indigenous Peoples decide to terminate discussions?

In situations where proposed mining-related activities (for new projects or at existing operations) may result in new or increased impacts on the rights or interests of Indigenous Peoples, a process to obtain the FPIC of Indigenous Peoples for the proposed activities is undertaken, according to the following:
  1. If there is more than one distinct group of Indigenous Peoples (e.g., nation, population, community) whose rights may be affected by the entity’s mining-related activities, each is included in an FPIC process;
  2. If the Indigenous Peoples have a protocol in place for seeking their FPIC for proposed activities, the entity abides by the protocol unless changes are agreed by the Indigenous Peoples;
  3. If no protocol exists, the entity supports Indigenous Peoples to develop, document, and implement a process that aligns with the principles of FPIC; and
  4. In all cases, the FPIC process, at minimum:
    1. Specifies the decision-making processes of the respective parties;
    2. Outlines any Indigenous Peoples’ customs and protocols to be respected;
    3. Includes discussions on potential impacts of proposed mining-related activities, actions that could be taken to prevent, minimize, restore and compensate for impacts on Indigenous Peoples rights and environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts, and actions that could be taken to provide sustained benefits to Indigenous Peoples; and
    4. Includes the conditions under which the entity may (or may not) request renewal of discussions if the process fails to result in consent for proposed activities.

NOTE FOR 2.2.4.2.  REVISED. This requirement combines 2.2.4.1 (now 2.2.4.2.a) and 2.2.4.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard. Documenting the process used to be in 2.2.5.1 but is now incorporated here. 

2.2.4.2.b and c reflect what was previously 2.2.4.2 in the 2018 Standard. However, we have revised it to say that rather than jointly determine an FPIC process that the entity “support” the Indigenous Peoples to determine their own agreed FPIC process. This may be, for example, providing funding for Indigenous Peoples to access facilitators to aid them in establishing a process by which they can, as a community, come to agreement on a process to be followed that accords with their customary decision-making processes or creates an agreed new decision-making process, or it could simply be that the entity recognizes that development of such a process may take time.

2.2.4.2.d is NEW. We are proposing that the FPIC discussions need to include negotiations on the mitigation of impacts and provision of benefits. While the Indigenous Peoples should lead in terms of the content of these discussions, it seems productive to include a minimum set of expectations here. Input on this is welcome.

And we are proposing that these discussions also outline if and how they entity can request to renew FPIC discussions if they fail to obtain consent for their initial proposal. There may be cases when Indigenous Peoples say no, and that is the end of the discussion. There may also be cases when they say no to a certain proposal, but are open to further discussions if significant enough changes can be made to proposal. These conditions should be established early in the process, so that the entity does not continue to approach Indigenous Peoples for discussions if the Indigenous Peoples are not interested in such discussions. This is related to requirement 2.2.4.3.b, below.

Proposed activities only proceed with the FPIC of all affected communities of Indigenous Peoples. If Indigenous Peoples’ representatives clearly communicate that they do not consent to proposed activities, or that they do not wish to initiate or continue with FPIC-related discussions:
  1. The entity ceases to pursue the proposed activities; and
  2. Further discussions are only renewed in accordance with conditions agreed in 2.2.4.2.d.iv.

NOTE FOR 2.2.4.3.  This combines concepts from 2.2.2.2, 2.2.2.3 and 2.2.2.4 from the 2018 Mining Standard, which were found in the General Requirements criterion. We are proposing to delete that criterion, and so have moved these elements here. This concept was also included, but stated in a slightly different way, in 2.2.6.1 of the 2018 Mining Standard.

This one requirement now consolidates the expectation that new (proposed) activities should only proceed with consent of Indigenous Peoples. 

The requirement is critical, which means that in the IRMA system a site that does not obtain the consent of Indigenous Peoples for proposed activities cannot reach the higher achievement levels in IRMA (unless, for example, a mine proposed an expansion, the Indigenous Peoples did not provide consent and, as a result, the entity decided to not move ahead with the proposed expansion activities). See note on ‘Critical Requirements in this Chapter,’ above.

The entity offers to provide funding to Indigenous Peoples to select and hire technical and/or legal advisors to support them during a remediation (or equivalent) process or FPIC process (2.2.4.1 and 2.2.4.2, respectively). Any funding is provided in a manner agreed to by Indigenous Peoples.

NOTE FOR 2.2.4.4.  REVISED. The concept of identifying capacity issues and providing funding or other means to address capacity issues was in the 2018 Mining Standard (requirement 2.2.3.2.d). This requirement makes it clear that “informed” consent means that Indigenous Peoples have the technical capacity needed to understand and evaluate proposals, and if such capacity does not exist, it is incumbent on the entity proposing the development to help address that need. 

Previously, this support was specifically stated in relation to the FPIC process, and we are proposing that it also be extended to the remediation process in 2.2.4.1.

We have also specified that funding must be offered by the entity (bearing in mind that Indigenous Peoples may refuse), and if accepted by the Indigenous Peoples and that it must be provided in a manner agreed to by them (i.e., to avoid entity offering to directly hire lawyers or technical experts rather than provide funding for Indigenous Peoples to do so themselves).

The entity informs members of the affected Indigenous Peoples’ communities of the remediation (or equivalent) process or FPIC process that is to be followed, unless the Indigenous Peoples’ representatives explicitly request otherwise.

NOTE FOR 2.2.4.5.  REVISED. This was 2.2.4.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. The original requirement expected that this information be made publicly available. We are proposing to change it to a requirement that members of Indigenous Peoples communities be informed of the FPIC or remediation process, so that they are aware that these processes are occurring and can be in touch with their representatives if they have input and concerns that they want to be reflected in the discussions.  

Public disclosure of the process that was followed and the outcomes of the process are addressed in 2.2.5.7.

If the processes in 2.2.4.1 and 2.2.4.2 result in a remediation agreement (or equivalent) for addressing past and present impacts, or FPIC for proposed activities:
  1. A draft agreement is prepared that includes the terms and conditions reached during negotiations, including, if relevant:
    1. Agreed actions to be taken to prevent, mitigate, and compensate for potential and actual adverse impacts on the Indigenous Peoples’ right and interests;
    2. Agreed actions to be taken to deliver positive benefits to Indigenous Peoples;
    3. Terms related to the monitoring of commitments; and
    4. How the parties will resolve any future disputes;
  2. Affected community members are provided an opportunity to verify that the agreement’s terms and conditions reflect what was understood by them during negotiations; and
  3. The agreement is signed or otherwise validated by representatives of the Indigenous Peoples and the entity.

NOTE FOR 2.2.4.6.  REVISED. This was previously requirement 2.2.5.1., which stated that entities had to sign and make public (if accepted by Indigenous Peoples) a binding agreement outlining the terms and conditions reached. 

In 2.2.4.6 we expanded the language to be more specific about the content of the agreement (2.2.4.6.a.i to iv) and added sub-requirement (b) based on Expert Working Group discussions. Sub-requirements (c) reflects that the agreement be binding by having it be signed/validated. We moved the requirement for making the agreement public (if agreed by the Indigenous Peoples) to 2.2.4.7. 

The entity publicly reports, in a manner agreed by the Indigenous Peoples, the agreement-making or FPIC process that was followed, and the outcome of those processes. Any agreements reached are made public unless otherwise decided by the Indigenous Peoples.

NOTE for 2.2.4.7.  The content here is not new. It reflects previous expectations in 2.2.5.1 and 2.2.5.2 of the 2018 Mining Standard. We altered the language slightly to refer to ‘agreement-making’ processes, which include agreements for remedy related to past impacts and FPIC.

2.2.5: Implementation Plan and Monitoring of Agreements

NOTE for 2.2.5:  This criterion is NEW. It includes requirements from a criterion in the 2018 Mining Standard that is proposed for deletion (2.2.7 ‘Implementation and Ongoing Engagement’). 

An Indigenous Peoples’ Development Plan (or equivalent) guides the implementation of the agreement reached in 2.2.4.6. The plan:
  1. Is developed by competent professionals;
  2. Outlines the agreed specific actions to minimize, mitigate, or compensate for potential and actual adverse environmental and social impacts on Indigenous Peoples’ right and interests, and actions to optimize positive benefits;
  3. Includes appropriate performance criteria and indicators agreed with Indigenous Peoples to enable evaluation of the effectiveness of actions over time as well as a plan to conduct monitoring and evaluation;
  4. Assigns implementation of actions, or oversight of implementation, to responsible staff;
  5. Includes an implementation schedule; and
  6. Includes estimates of human resources and budget required and a financing plan to ensure that funding is available for the effective implementation of the plan.

NOTE for 2.2.5.1.  NEW. Previously, there was no requirement for an actual plan that outlined the actions to be taken by the entity to honor the agreements with Indigenous Peoples. This requirement is similar to what is required in IFC Performance Standard 7-Indigenous Peoples, and the sub-requirements align with management plan expectations in other IRMA chapters.

In addition to developing an actual plan to carry out the agreed actions, we are also proposing that a monitoring and evaluation plan be developed. Although not specifically required in IFC’s Performance Standard, the guidance notes for that Performance Standard do include an Annex that includes suggested elements related to an “Indigenous Peoples Development Plan,” including monitoring, evaluation and reporting. Reporting in the IRMA chapter is covered in 2.2.6.2.

The entity tracks and documents the status of the commitments made in the agreement (see 2.2.4.6.a).

NOTE for 2.2.5.2.  This was included in 2.2.7.1 of the 2018 Mining Standard. It was separated out because this is the entity’s responsibility, while collaboration on monitoring the agreement (now 2.2.5.3, below) with Indigenous Peoples.

The entity collaborates with Indigenous Peoples to monitor:
  1. The commitments made in the agreement (see 2.2.4.6.a); and
  2. The implementation and effectiveness of actions included in the Indigenous Peoples Development Plan (see 2.2.5.1).

NOTE for 2.2.5.3.  This was included in 2.2.7.1 of the 2018 Mining Standard. It has been expanded to include monitoring of commitments made in the agreement as well as monitoring the implementation of the management plan.

2.2.6: Ongoing Engagement

NOTE for 2.2.6:  This criterion is NEW. It includes requirements from a criterion in the 2018 Mining Standard that is proposed for deletion (2.2.7. Implementation and Ongoing Engagement). 

The entity collaborates with Indigenous Peoples to develop and implement a mechanism or mechanisms through which complaints or grievances related to the entity’s actions and activities can be heard and addressed. At least one mechanism is in place that allows for complaints to be filed by individual members of affected Indigenous Peoples communities, and community members are aware of this mechanism.

NOTE for 2.2.6.1.  This is NEW.  It was added based on discussions by the Expert Working Group, because even though IRMA has a chapter on Grievance Mechanism it was felt there may be the need for specific mechanism(s) to address Indigenous Peoples concerns – and that such mechanisms need to be designed and implemented in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples specifically. There was also concern that one mechanism may not be sufficient, especially in situations where Indigenous Peoples’ communities are not entirely cohesive or united in their beliefs and perspectives. In such cases, there must be an accessible mechanism that allows any person to contact the company to express concerns or complaints.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.4-2 (repeated from Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’)

Background:  Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’ includes a range of requirements surrounding the existence of an accessible and effective operational-level grievance mechanism. It is not possible to score well on Chapter 1.4 if the mechanism does not have certain quality-related characteristics. Other chapters (i.e., human rights, gender, resettlement, security, ASM) also have requirements relating to the existence of a grievance mechanism; however, the requirements in each of those chapters ask only that a mechanism is in place that allows grievances to be filed and addressed, but they do not speak to the overall quality of that mechanism. This is an approach proposed by IRMA to avoid too much repetition across chapters. However, this creates a situation in which an entity could theoretically score ‘fully meets’ on the grievance-related requirement in an individual chapter (which in most cases only asks that stakeholders have “access to” a grievance mechanism), even if the grievance mechanism as a whole is not an effective one (as reflected in the overall score for Chapter 1.4). 

Question:  Should an entity’s score on grievance-related requirements within individual non-grievance-specific chapters be restrained or linked to the overall score that the entity gets on the grievance chapter (Chapter 1.4) as a whole? 

For example, if a site scores 80% on Chapter 1.4, the most the site could receive for a grievance requirement in the other chapters would be a ‘substantially meets,’ but if a site scores 100% on Chapter 1.4 then, assuming the mechanism can handle grievances specific to the other chapters, they could possibly get a ‘fully meets’ rating on those grievance requirements.

Ongoing engagement with Indigenous Peoples:
  1. Includes the regular sharing of information and consultation with a diversity of members and representatives of affected communities of Indigenous Peoples on the entity’s mining-related activities;
  2. Includes regular updates on the status of commitments made in any agreements and the implementation and effectiveness of actions included in the Indigenous Peoples Development Plan; and
  3. Continues throughout all stages of the project’s/operation’s life cycle.

NOTE for 2.2.6.2.  This was 2.2.7.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. The original requirement simply stated that engagement needed to occur throughout the life cycle. We are proposing to add sub-requirements (a) and (b) to indicate the various types of information should be shared on a regular basis.

We have added clarification, as well, that information sharing and engagement is with Indigenous Peoples communities generally, not just Indigenous Peoples representatives. This aligns with other standards such as IFC Performance Standard 7, which requires that ongoing engagement not only involve Indigenous Peoples’ representative bodies but also “Be inclusive of both women and men and of various age groups in a culturally appropriate manner.”

Chapter 2.3: Obtaining Community Support and Delivering Benefits

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  Changes to this chapter were relatively minor. There were no requirement/criterion deletions; the modifications and additions to requirements are outlined below. 

Proposed additions and changes:

  • In this chapter, we added clarifications to terms such as transparency, good governance, culturally appropriate and more onus on the entity to undertake more proactive (2.3.3.3) and predictable (2.3.3.5) approach to consultations. Other small revisions to organization of sub-requirements. 
  • We proposed making local procurement a standalone requirement (2.3.3.7) – in the 2018 Mining Standard it was grouped in with local development opportunities, but they are distinct as the latter is not based on philanthropy but rather a business relationship that can benefit the supplier and purchaser). We also proposed that the procurement policy includes minimum expectations related to supplier environmental, labor, human rights, and social standards (2.3.3.6).

2.3.1: Commitments to Affected Communities

The entity publicly commits to maintaining or improving the social and economic wellbeing of affected communities.

NOTE FOR 2.3.1.1:  NEW. We removed the reference to health, as that is covered in Chapter 3.3, and separated out the previous sub-requirement (b) related to a commitment to broad community support for projects that are being developed. Instead, we are proposing that entities be required to demonstrate that they have obtained and are maintaining such support in 2.3.2.1, below. 

2.3.2: Obtaining and Maintaining Community Support

NOTE FOR 2.3.2:  We have changed the title of this criterion to better reflect the expectations that community support must not only be obtained but also maintained over time. Also, in the requirements below, we combined two requirements, and removed the qualifier ‘for new mines’ and ‘for existing mines’ from 2.3.2.1 and 2.3.2.2 as IRMA is moving away from this distinction of new versus existing mines. Instead, all projects/operations will be expected to demonstrate that they have broad community support no matter their phase of development.

The entity demonstrates that broad community support for projects/operations has been obtained through a local democratic process or governance mechanism, or another process or method agreed to by the entity and an affected community (e.g., a referendum) undertaken to gauge the level of support for a project/operation, and/or a signed agreement between the entity and affected communities (e.g., a benefit sharing agreement). In all cases, the process used to gauge community support and/or reach an agreement:
  1. Occurs after the entity carries out consultations with relevant stakeholders regarding potential or actual impacts and benefits of the project/operation;
  2. Is transparent;
  3. Is free from coercion or manipulation; and
  4. Includes the opportunity for meaningful input by all potentially affected community members, including different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups, prior to carrying out any decision-making or agreement-making process.

NOTE FOR 2.3.2.1.  REVISED. This was 2.3.2.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. In addition to local votes or referenda related to projects/operations, we are proposing to include signed agreements as possible evidence of broad community support. However, in such cases there must be evidence that potentially affected community members were aware of the impacts and benefits of the project/proposal and had the opportunity to provide input into any agreement-making process prior to an agreement being signed (just as there would need to be this opportunity prior to any vote/referenda).

If no such process has occurred, then we are proposing that an entity will not meet this requirement. However, the entity could request that such a community process occurs, or could sign an agreement with a community at any point, and demonstrate that it meets this requirement.

Also, even without meeting this requirement an entity could demonstrate in 2.3.2.2 that it is maintaining broad community support in 2.3.2.2 (even though broad community support was not officially obtained). See Note for 2.3.2.2, below. 

The entity demonstrates that broad community support from communities affected by the project/operation is being maintained over time.

NOTE FOR 2.3.2.2.  REVISED. This was 2.3.2.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard, and previously applied to existing mines. The requirement now applies to both projects (e.g., in the exploration or development stages) and operating mines/processing facilities, because even if evidence of broad community support is initially obtained, it must be maintained throughout the life cycle.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.3-1

Background:  ‘Broad community support’ neither requires nor implies 100% agreement in the community. Therefore, even if a democratic vote is taken or an agreement signed there will almost always be some community members who are supportive of a project or operation, and some who are opposed (see a similar discussion related to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.2-1 in Chapter 2.2). 

Furthermore, even if agreements have been signed or there was at some point in time a community vote, etc., sentiments can change over time: opposition may emerge or increase if entities are not responsive to community concerns and/or do not manage social or environmental impacts well; or support may increase if efforts are made to create positive opportunities or benefits such as jobs or training programs. As a result, at one point in time there may be significant enough community-based opposition to say that a site has not obtained or maintained broad community support, and a few years later this situation could reverse.

Ultimately, at every audit the auditors will need to determine about whether a project /operation has broad community support based on the weight of evidence that they have reviewed. Typically, auditors:

  • Carry out interviews with affected community members, local and regional non-governmental organizations, and local authorities to understand any processes, events, or outcomes that might indicate presence/absence or change in level of broad community support; and
  • Review current social and traditional media to ascertain community opinions and responses to the entity/project.  

IRMA will continue to train auditors so that the narratives that accompany this requirement in the public audit report reflect the weight of evidence (i.e., any positive support and any opposition that may exist) that led to their conclusions. We will also develop additional guidance and training for auditors on how to assess/factor in the presence of some opposition (i.e., how much weight to give to a handful of negative articles, a few oppositional tweets, a group of unhappy community members, etc.). 

Question:  Are there specific metrics that can consistently and objectively reflect whether or not broad community support is being maintained? Or is it enough that auditors weigh the evidence and are transparent about their findings?

2.3.3: Planning and Delivering Community Benefits

The entity, in collaboration with affected communities and other relevant stakeholders (including workers and local government), develops a culturally appropriate participatory planning process to guide the entity’s contributions to community development initiatives and benefits in affected communities. The planning process:
  1. Facilitates participation by a broad spectrum of the community (including different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups);
  2. Adheres to principles of good governance, including:
    1. An agreed set of procedures to guide the process; and
    2. An agreed set of criteria for how initiatives and beneficiaries will be selected;
  3. Adheres to the principle of transparency, meaning that:
    1. Information on the planning process and procedures and are widely available and understood within the community; and
    2. The planning process and any outcomes, decisions, and/or agreements are documented and made publicly available in languages and formats that are understandable to affected communities.

NOTE FOR 2.3.3.1.  REVISED. This requirement combines 2.3.3.1 and 2.3.3.2 from the 2018 Mining Standard, as both requirements related to the same participatory process. We added a reference to the need for the planning process to be culturally appropriate. 

More detail was added on what was meant by good governance and transparency. Previously, this information was in the IRMA guidance for this chapter, but to increase consistency in expectations we are proposing to add it here.

2.3.3.1.c.ii used was requirement 2.3.3.5 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Since it relates to transparency, it was moved here.

Affected communities are offered access to funding for mutually agreed-upon experts to aid in the participatory process (e.g., as facilitators and/or community advisors) if such assistance is not provided by the appropriate public authorities.

NOTE FOR 2.3.3.2.  REVISED. This was requirement 2.3.3.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. It stated, “If requested by the community and not provided by the appropriate public authorities, the operating company shall provide …” – however, this was difficult to audit because if the communities didn’t know this was available, they were unlikely to ask for it, and if they didn’t ask for it, there was nothing to audit. We therefore altered the language in 2.3.3.2 to put the onus on the entity to explicitly offer this assistance, in line with similar changes in other chapters. Also added “e.g., as facilitators and/or community advisors” to guide entities and auditors as to what form this assistance might take. 

Community contributions include:
  1. Initiatives that benefit a broad spectrum of the community (e.g., women, men, children, youth, and vulnerable and traditionally marginalized groups) and are culturally appropriate; and
  2. Mechanisms that can be self-sustaining after closure of the operation (including building community capacity to oversee and sustain any projects or initiatives agreed upon through negotiations).

NOTE FOR 2.3.3.3.  REVISED. In the 2018 Mining Standard, this was requirement 2.3.3.4, and it had three sub-requirements. We separated out the previous 2.3.3.4.a, which referred to local procurement opportunities (now addressed in the new 2.3.3.6 below).  We added a reference to the need for the initiatives to be culturally appropriate.

In collaboration with the community, the entity establishes and implements a procedure to regularly monitor the effectiveness of any mechanisms or agreements developed to deliver community benefits, based on agreed-upon indicators, and to evaluate if changes need to be made to those mechanisms or agreements.

NOTE FOR 2.3.3.4.  REVISED. This was requirement 2.3.3.6 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We added language to indicate that the site must establish and implement a procedure to regularly monitor and assess revise the effectiveness of community initiatives. This more systematized approach reflects comments from stakeholders suggesting more predictability in terms of reviews and revisions of community initiatives. 

The entity develops and implements a procurement policy (or equivalent) that:
  1. Sets out minimum environmental, labor, human rights, and social standards for suppliers of goods and services to the project/operation;
  2. Includes targets for sourcing from and supporting local suppliers and businesses; and
  3. Is communicated to suppliers.
The entity monitors its suppliers for compliance with its policy and evaluates its own performance against its local procurement targets. Where supplier compliance is not occurring, or targets are not being met, the entity develops and implements an action plan to improve supplier compliance and its own performance.

NOTE FOR 2.3.3.5 and 2.3.3.6.  NEW. This is a new approach. Previously, a reference was made to procurement in requirement 2.3.3.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard; however, IRMA has received a suggestion that the Standard should separate local procurement from the participatory planning process for community development initiatives into a separate, standalone requirement. This is reasonable, as local procurement is another means to provide benefits at the local level but is not based on philanthropy but rather a business relationship that can benefit the supplier and purchaser.

The creation of these requirements is also in response to feedback received on IRMA’s draft Mineral Processing Standard. That standard proposed requirements for mineral processing sites that include due diligence on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance for suppliers of raw materials, and suggestions were made that suppliers providing other goods and services should also be subject to some due diligence. We are not proposing to use the term governance here, but in addition to environmental and social expectations we are proposing to add human rights and labor, as these issues are already covered in the IRMA Standard in relation to suppliers.

In 2.3.3.5, we are proposing two elements. 

  • First, that the procurement policy includes minimum expectations related to supplier environmental, labor, human rights and social standards. Increasingly, this is an expectation for businesses. For example, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (and IRMA Chapter 1.3) include the expectation that entities identify and address human rights impacts across their operations, products and throughout supplier and business networks. 
  • Second, we have added that targets be set to “buy local”, which provides a demonstration that companies are interested in supporting local economies. Being transparent about local procurement intentions, by releasing a public policy, is another way to both manage expectations and demonstrate that local procurement is considered important by the company.

Requirement 2.3.3.6 has been added because there needs to be a way to determine if policies are being implemented effectively, and, if they are not, then action needs to be taken to improve implementation.

Chapter 2.4: Proposed Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement

Name(Required)
Are you commenting on behalf of this organization?(Required)
Keep your comment confidential

NOTES ON THIS CHAPTER:  We are proposing to remove the flag from this chapter. The flag related to encouraging assessing mines to help us better understand if the metrics in the chapter were sufficient to ensure that resettlement would be carried out in a fair and respectful manner that leads to improvements in quality of life and economic opportunities for affected peoples. Through the first audits, and an Expert Working Group on Resettlement in 2022, a great deal was learned about the challenges of carrying out resettlement, and also challenges with the chapter as written. The proposed changes below attempt to address those challenges.

We are proposing to change the title of the chapter from ‘Resettlement’ to ‘Land Acquisition, Displacement, and Resettlement’ as not all land acquisition results in displacement (i.e., if acquired lands are vacant and publicly owned there may not be displacement) and, more importantly, not all displacement is addressed through resettlement. This latter point is because the term ‘resettlement’ refers to a conscientious process of moving affected populations from one area to another, which may not have happened with historical displacement, if there was no physical displacement, or if an entity simply engaged in forced evictions or cash compensations. Therefore, to encompass the variety of scenarios that may arise (no displacement, no resettlement, etc.) we are proposing this as a more encompassing and therefore accurate title.

Proposed additions and changes:

There are three major changes being proposed to the content in Chapter 2.4. 

1)  First, IRMA is proposing that all entities conduct land acquisition due diligence to support claims that no displacement occurred as a result of their land acquisition process. This is being proposed as it is not feasible for auditors to independently investigate such claims; rather, entities must provide them with evidence to evaluate (see ‘Rationale for Adding Requirements Related to Historical Land Acquisition and Displacement’ below). 

2)  Second, we are proposing to create a separate set of requirements – 2.4B – that will apply to circumstances where resettlements happened in the past. This would be distinct from those requirements 2.4A that apply to land acquisition that happened in the recent past and/or land acquisition proposed for the future. 

The objective is to ensure that recent resettlements (2012 or later) and proposed projects follow international best practices. We are proposing a cutoff date of 2012 because this date marks the release of the most up-to-date edition of IFC’s Sustainability Framework, including the Performance Standards (PS) on Environmental and Social Sustainability upon which these chapters are based. However, in recognition that Chapter 2.4A goes beyond the IFC PS in several ways, we are proposing to exempt entities that conducted land acquisition prior to the release of the final version 2.0 of the updated IRMA Standard from meeting those requirements that go above and beyond the IFC PS and therefore cannot be said to have been normative prior to the release of the updated IRMA Standard. This is explained in the ‘Scope of Application’ section of both 2.4A and 2.4B.   

For historical (pre-2012) resettlements, the intent is not to be punitive but rather to focus on how sites can remediate and continue to improve the lives and livelihoods of those who have been displaced as a result of mineral development. Where land acquisition due diligence reveals that displacement did occur, IRMA lays out an abbreviated (compared to Chapter 2.4A – ‘Proposed Land Acquisition and Resettlement’) set of criteria aimed at achieving the objectives of Chapter 2.4A, to the extent possible given the historic nature of displacement.  

The allocation of requirements based on entity circumstance would therefore be: 

  • Chapter 2.4B – ‘Historical Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement’ – applies to all land acquisition and displacement taking place before 2012 (see below for cut-off date rationale).
  • Chapter 2.4A (modified requirements)‘Proposed Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement’ – projects or operations with recent land acquisition processes, i.e., between 2012 and the release of the updated version of the IRMA Standard.  
  • Chapter 2.4A (full requirements)‘Proposed Land Acquisition and Resettlement’ – project or operations that are proposing new land acquisition that may lead to displacement. 

This approach is similar in some ways to that of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). 

A resettlement guidance documented published by EBRD in 2017 states that:
“When land acquisition for a project has been completed prior to the EBRD’s involvement. . .any gaps in the achievement of aims and objectives of [EBRD’s Performance Requirement 5 or PR5] will have to be satisfactorily addressed by the client before approval of the loan. To identify the gaps, the Bank will usually require a review of the historic land acquisition process and compare it to PR5. . . Based on the outcomes of these activities, an action plan to fulfil gaps is prepared and agreed by the EBRD and the client.” 

However, IRMA recognizes that entities that undertook land acquisition long ago may not be able to simply identify and ‘fill gaps’ vis-a-vis the requirements in Chapter 2.4A (due to dispersion of the affected population, lack of documentation of assets affected, etc.). IRMA therefore takes a remediation-focused approach that encourages recognition and remedy of past displacement impacts in a manner that approximates the requirements of Chapter 2.4A to the extent possible but puts emphasis on negotiated remediation in cooperation with the persons affected based on what is realistic and feasible in a given context. 

3)  The third proposed substantive change is adding a requirement relating to voluntary displacement (2.4.7.9). 

Rationale for Adding Requirements Related to Historical Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement: 

Resettlements that occurred in the past create a particularly challenging scenario from an auditing and certification process. On the one hand, many land acquisition processes occurred before the concept of what constituted ‘best practice’ with respect to resettlement had emerged at the international level, so it seems unfair to expect entities undertaking land acquisition and/or resettlement 50 years ago, for example, to the same standards as those undertaking it today. This is not to mention logistical difficulties determining impacts in the past and the inability of entities to go back in time to rectify or remediate for shortcomings vis-à-vis today’s standards. 

In recognition of 2006 (the year the IFC first published their Performance Standards (PS), including PS5 on land acquisition and involuntary resettlement) as a watershed moment for international guidance on resettlement best practice, the previous version of the IRMA standard did not include requirements for entities that acquired land, displaced people, or conducted a resettlement prior to 2006, beyond requiring that unmitigated human rights impacts be remediated per Chapter 1.3. For resettlements occurring between 2006 and the release of the 2018 Mining standard, IRMA required that entities meet a selection of Chapter 2.4 criteria, aimed at identifying and mitigating the impacts of resettlement, including human rights impacts. The full chapter only truly applied to mines that proposed and carried out a resettlement project as of the date the IRMA Mining Standard came into effect (June 2018). Finally, for an entity to mark the chapter as ‘not relevant,’ the entity had to provide a rationale that no displacement/resettlement occurred in the past (a claim that auditors had to verify).

While a reasonable solution in face of the complexities of addressing historical displacement and/or resettlement, some stakeholders and auditors subsequently expressed that the categories were somewhat arbitrary and could result in resettlement chapter scores for different mining entities that appeared equivalent even though actual performance and outcomes were very different. Thus, some opportunities for improvement emerged. Namely: 

  1. Although their prominence increased with the publication of the first IFC Performance Standards in 2006, international norms surrounding good practice in resettlement existed as early as 1980, with the release of the World Bank’s Operational Manual Statement OMS 2.33 (1980), which laid out basic principles for involuntary resettlement relating to fair compensation, the need to produce a resettlement plan to guide activities, and the mandate to leave affected people better off as a result of resettlement. These policies were further refined in 1990 in the World Bank’s Operational Directive 4.30 on involuntary resettlement, which introduced a preference for replacement land over cash compensation for those with land-based livelihoods and encouraged projects to provide financial management and livelihoods training to affected people. Therefore, to hold an entity that conducted resettlement in 2006 to drastically different standards than one that conducted resettlement in 2005 required rethinking. 
  2. Absent at least an obligation on behalf of the entity to conduct due diligence on historical (pre-2006 under the 2018 Mining Standard) land acquisition processes, there was a potential that projects initiated prior to 2006 could become certified by IRMA despite having knowingly or unknowingly committed human rights abuses and other impacts incongruent with the spirit of IRMA and the requirements of Chapter 2.4, as this information may not be forthcoming without a dedicated effort to evaluate the events surrounding land acquisition (see also point #3 below).
  3. By not requiring entities to develop and demonstrate an understanding of their own land acquisition processes, the onus was on the auditor to independently validate claims that ‘no displacement occurred’ (i.e., chapter ‘not relevant’) or that ‘no human rights abuses occurred’. This was not only a missed opportunity for entities to understand and recognize their past, but it also put undue pressure on auditors to identify potentially affected populations (that by definition are no longer in the project area) for validation interviews or to conduct independent research into land acquisition processes on which they have little information to guide them. While investigation of past environmental impacts is often facilitated by the proximity of impacted people to the source of the impact, resettlement by nature involves the removal of affected people from the source of the impact. This further complicated the auditor’s ability to independently determine whether displacement occurred in the past and, if so, whether human rights abuses resulted and/or whether those affected had or have access to grievance processes. 

The creation of Chapter 2.4B (‘Historical Land Acquisition, Displacement and Resettlement’) was motivated by a desire – expressed by working group members and other resettlement practitioners – to ensure all entities are held accountable at a minimum for understanding and assessing the events surrounding project-related land acquisition and, where relevant and to the extent possible, identifying and offering remedy for historical impacts. 

PARTICIPATE IN AN EXPERT WORKING GROUP ON THIS CHAPTER

If you are interested in participating in an Expert Working Group on Land Acquisition, Displacement, and Resettlement, please contact IRMA’s Standards Director, Pierre De Pasquale (pdepasquale@responsiblemining.net).

2.4.1: Land Acquisition Due Diligence

The entity hires competent professionals with resettlement expertise to document:
  1. Applicable host country laws related to land acquisition and resettlement;
  2. Circumstances of any land acquisition that already occurred in the project area, identifying, to the extent possible:
    1. Records of formal and informal land ownership, land use, and land occupancy on any lands acquired by the project/operation prior to acquisition by the entity, prior owner, or government in the case of government-led land acquisition;
    2. Records of other potential project-related displacement, i.e., due to impacts on natural resources utilized by communities, exposure to noise, vibration, etc.; and
    3. If there was any physical or economic displacement of Indigenous Peoples.

NOTE for 2.4.1.1:  NEW. We are proposing to add this because, for entities claiming that land acquisition will not result in displacement (i.e., those intending to mark the chapter ‘not relevant’), this step constitutes the burden of proof required to demonstrate to auditors that land acquisition due diligence has been formally conducted and no displacement will occur. For entities that believe or are aware that displacement will occur in a proposed project, the results of this due diligence will inform – and could constitute part of – the assessment outlined in 2.4.1.2. We also created a new criterion, ‘Land Acquisition Due Diligence,’ to distinguish it from risk and impact assessment (now criterion 2.4.2).

2.4.2: Risk/Impact Assessment

If there is the potential that land acquisition for mining-related activities or the level of direct or indirect impacts from the project/operation could result in the involuntary displacement (for the remainder of this chapter, referred to as ‘displacement’) of people, the entity undertakes a rigorous assessment to evaluate the potential direct and indirect risks and impacts related to the physical and/or economic displacement of people. The assessment:
  1. Is carried out by competent professionals with expertise in land acquisition and resettlement;
  2. Occurs during the early stages of land acquisition planning;
  3. Includes identification and systematic evaluation of project design alternatives to avoid or minimize the displacement of people if that is the most protective option for people;
  4. Identifies and analyzes the social, cultural, human rights, conflict, environmental, and economic risks and impacts to displaced people and host communities for each alternative, paying particular attention to potential impacts on different genders, ages, ethnicities, and any potentially vulnerable groups; and
  5. Identifies measures to prevent and mitigate risks and impacts and estimate the costs of implementing the measures.

NOTE for 2.4.2.1:  REVISED. This was 2.4.1.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Here we expanded the definition of “physical displacement” in the guidance notes to recognize involuntary displacement (of informal land occupants) resulting from voluntary land acquisition processes. We also combined previous 2.4.1.1 and 2.4.2.2 as the latter were qualifiers on the former. Sub-requirement (a) in this requirement was previously 2.4.1.2 and sub-requirement (c) was previously 2.4.1.2. 

We changed the word ‘experience’ to ‘expertise’ in sub-requirement (a) and will add guidance on how this should be defined, depending on the nature of the resettlement. 

We added to (c) language indicating that avoidance should only be an objective if doing so is in the best interest of affected people.

The assessment is made publicly available in the early stages of the resettlement planning process, and details on how it can be accessed are actively provided to potentially affected stakeholders and their advisors.

NOTE for 2.4.2.2: REVISED. This was 2.4.1.5 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We added language requiring entities to actively provide the assessment to potentially affected stakeholders and their advisors.

2.4.3: Community Engagement

The entity discloses, in a culturally appropriate manner, relevant information and conducts consultations with potentially affected people and communities, including host communities, to inform:
  1. The assessment of displacement and resettlement risks and impacts, including the consideration of alternative project designs to avoid or minimize resettlement; and
  2. The development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) and/or Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), including but not limited to soliciting input on resettlement and livelihood restoration options.

NOTE for 2.4.3.1:  REVISED. This was 2.4.2.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We combined sub-requirements (b) and (c) of the former 2.4.2.1 as the former was a constituent part of the latter. We also added language that consultations must be conducted in a culturally appropriate manner, and are proposing the following definition of culturally appropriate: 

         Refers to methods, formats, languages, and timing (e.g., of communications, interactions, and provision of information) being aligned with the cultural norms, practices, and traditions of affected communities, rights holders, and stakeholders. 

Potentially affected people and communities, including host communities, are actively and explicitly offered access to independent legal or other expert advice. This offer is made at the earliest stages of project design and continue throughout monitoring and evaluation of the resettlement process.

NOTE for 2.4.3.2:  REVISED. This was 2.4.2.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. This has been revised to make it clear that the entity needs to actively inform the affected stakeholders that this is an option available to them, rather than assuming people must approach the entity to ask for it.

Potentially affected people and communities are actively and explicitly provided with information about, and access to, a mechanism to raise and seek recourse for concerns or grievances related to displacement and resettlement.

NOTE for 2.4.3.3:  REVISED. This was 2.4.2.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We have proposed new language that not only must affected people have access to a grievance mechanism, but that the entity must actively and explicitly inform them of the mechanism and provide them with information about how they can use it.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 1.4-2 (repeated from Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’)

Background:  Chapter 1.4 – ‘Complaints and Grievance Mechanism and Access to Remedy’ includes a range of requirements surrounding the existence of an accessible and effective operational-level grievance mechanism. It is not possible to score well on Chapter 1.4 if the mechanism does not have certain quality-related characteristics. Other chapters (i.e., human rights, gender, resettlement, security, ASM) also have requirements relating to the existence of a grievance mechanism; however, the requirements in each of those chapters ask only that a mechanism is in place that allows grievances to be filed and addressed, but they do not speak to the overall quality of that mechanism. This is an approach proposed by IRMA to avoid too much repetition across chapters. However, this creates a situation in which an entity could theoretically score ‘fully meets’ on the grievance-related requirement in an individual chapter (which in most cases only asks that stakeholders have “access to” a grievance mechanism), even if the grievance mechanism as a whole is not an effective one (as reflected in the overall score for Chapter 1.4). 

Question:  Should an entity’s score on grievance-related requirements within individual non-grievance-specific chapters be restrained or linked to the overall score that the entity gets on the grievance chapter (Chapter 1.4) as a whole? 

For example, if a site scores 80% on Chapter 1.4, the most the site could receive for a grievance requirement in the other chapters would be a ‘substantially meets,’ but if a site scores 100% on Chapter 1.4 then, assuming the mechanism can handle grievances specific to the other chapters, they could possibly get a ‘fully meets’ rating on those grievance requirements.

2.4.4: Resettlement and Livelihood Restoration Planning and Preparation

Where displacement is deemed unavoidable, the entity undertakes the following prior to displacement:
  1. A household-level socioeconomic census to collect appropriate baseline data on the current livelihoods, standards of living, and socio-cultural practices of people who will be physically or economically displaced by the project/operation; and
  2. A land and asset survey to: establish an inventory of affected lands and other assets, along with their location, status, and condition; to determine owners or users of the assets; to determine eligibility for compensation; and to establish a cut-off for compensation claims.

NOTE for 2.4.4.1:  REVISED. This was 2.4.3.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We removed reference in sub-requirement (a) to identifying affected people, as this is done under the assessment detailed in 2.4.1.1. We separated the socioeconomic census from the land and asset survey for clarity and moved details from the guidance notes re: purpose of each into the requirement. We moved a guidance note pertaining to gender and eligibility for compensation down to NEW requirement 2.4.4.4.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-1:  IRMA has identified climate resiliency and adaptation as a necessary consideration in the ESIA process.  Should IRMA also require that climate resiliency and climate adaptation be considered during resettlement planning (e.g., in terms of social capital development, social learning and effective community organization and leadership; livelihoods restoration strategies which respond to changing climatic conditions; climate-resilient housing, settlements layout and infrastructure; or other key areas of climate-related impact as it relates to resettlement)?  Examples of current, emerging, or predicted concerns are welcome for context.  

In the case of physical displacement, the entity develops and implements a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). If the project involves economic displacement only, then a Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP) is developed and implemented. In either case, these plans:
  1. Are developed by competent professionals with land acquisition/resettlement expertise;
  2. Include a gap analysis of host country laws and international laws pertaining to compensation and restoration for displacement and outline how any gaps will be filled;
  3. Document the socioeconomic baseline results for the area affected by land acquisition/displacement that describes the current livelihoods, standards of living, and socio-cultural practices of affected people;
  4. Describe how affected people will be involved in an ongoing process of consultation (including access to grievance processes) throughout the resettlement/livelihood restoration planning, implementation and monitoring phases, including how consultations will ensure the inclusion of potentially vulnerable groups;
  5. Describe the strategies to be undertaken to mitigate the negative impacts of displacement and restore or, ideally, improve livelihoods and standards of living of displaced people, paying particular attention to the needs of potentially vulnerable groups and the potential for compensation or livelihoods support to create or exacerbate conflicts within or between communities;
  6. Describe how livelihood restoration measures draw on consultations with affected people concerning their preferences, as well as a demonstrated understanding of local markets and feasible economic opportunities;
  7. Describe the methods used for valuing land and other assets;
  8. Establish the compensation framework (i.e., entitlements and rates of compensation for all categories of affected people, including host communities) in a transparent, consistent, and equitable manner;
  9. Describe how monitoring and evaluation will be conducted; and
  10. Include a budget and implementation schedule.

NOTE for 2.4.4.2:  REVISED. This was 2.4.3.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Previous requirement 2.4.3.2 moved down to 2.4.4.3. The proposed changes here include:

  • Adding sub-requirements (a), (b), (c), (g)
  • Adding reference in (d) to consultation with marginalized /vulnerable populations and access to grievance processes;
  • Adding reference in (e) to consideration of mitigation strategies in a manner that will not exacerbate conflicts within or between communities;
  • Adding reference in (f) to the need to explicitly consider stakeholder preferences and local market conditions;
  • Adding note to (h) stating that way of making the LRP/RAP publicly available must be appropriate to the affected population; and
Clear compensation eligibility criteria and a cut-off date for eligibility are established, and information regarding the cut-off date and eligibility criteria is well-documented and actively communicated to the project’s/operation’s stakeholders in advance of survey and census activities.

NOTE for 2.4.4.3:  REVISED. This was 2.4.3.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We removed reference to ‘in absence of government procedures’ to emphasize that entities must establish procedures aligned with the requirements even where government procedures exist, and where they are not aligned, make efforts to collaborate with government actors per the IRMA guidance note for 2.4.3.2.

The entity takes steps to integrate gender progressive approaches in the development of compensation and entitlement measures as appropriate to the context, including:
  1. Measures to address gender inequality in terms of access to and control of resources or assets;
  2. Ensuring gender responsive livelihood restoration approaches; and
  3. Ensuring adequate female representation on community-based resettlement, compensation, or grievance evaluation committees, if relevant.

NOTE for 2.4.4.4:  NEW. We are proposing to add this to more actively encourage gender progressive resettlement planning and implementation. Previously, such gender considerations were contained within the guidance notes.  

The RAP and/or LRP is made publicly available in a manner that is appropriate to the affected population.

NOTE for 2.4.4.5:  NEW. We separated this sub-requirement out from 2.4.4.3 (the rest of which deals with the content of the RAP/LRP, not the procedures surrounding it).

2.4.5: Specific Measures Related to Physical Displacement

In all cases where people are physically displaced, the entity:
  1. Provides relocation assistance that is suited to the needs of each group of displaced people and is sufficient for them to improve or at least restore their standard of living at an alternative location;
  2. Ensures that locations where displaced people are resettled offer equal or, ideally, improved living conditions;
  3. Takes into consideration displaced people’s preferences with respect to relocating in pre-existing communities and groups; and
  4. Respects and seeks to preserve and/or reestablish existing social and cultural institutions of the displaced people and any host communities.

NOTE for 2.4.5.1:  This was 2.4.4.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

In cases where physically displaced people have formal legal rights to the land or assets they occupy or use, or do not have formal legal rights but have a claim to land that is recognized or recognizable under host country law, the entity:
  1. Offers the choice of replacement land of at least equal value and characteristics, security of tenure, and advantages of location; and
  2. Offers the choice of replacement residential structures of at least equal value and characteristics; if original residential structures do not meet a minimum standard for dignified housing, the entity will provide replacement housing that meets these standards; or
  3. Offers as an alternative compensation that is sufficient to replace lost land and residential structures at full replacement cost in local markets, if cash compensation is appropriate and/or preferred by the affected person.

NOTE for 2.4.5.2:  REVISED. This was 2.4.4.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. 

In cases where physically displaced people have no recognizable legal right or claim to the land or assets that they occupy or use, the entity:
  1. Provides affected people with options for adequate housing with security of tenure; and
  2. Compensates for the loss of assets other than land at full replacement cost, provided that the people had been occupying the project area prior to the cut-off date for eligibility.

NOTE for 2.4.5.3:  REVISED. This was 2.4.4.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-2

Background:  IFC guidance states that entities are not obligated to provide replacement land or compensation for land to affected people with no formal or customary claim to the lands on which they live /engage in productive activities. However, PS5 does state that affected people, “should be offered resettlement assistance sufficient to restore their standards of living at a suitable alternative site.” If not through offering replacement land or compensation for land, how should entities restore standards of living of affected people who do not own land and, without compensation, may not be able to purchase land to reestablish their affected structures/livelihoods?

Question:  What guidance should IRMA give to entities concerning obligations towards physically displaced households in particular, where those households do not own lands on which to reestablish their residential structures? How should IRMA guide auditors to interpret “options for adequate housing with security of tenure” and the overall obligation to restore previous standards of living? 

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-3

Background:  In the case of tenants, IFC does not specify a particular outcome. IFC guidance states that, “In some cases, tenants may qualify for replacement housing and in other cases they will be resettled in similar housing under similar or improved tenure arrangements.” Without some boundaries it is difficult for companies and auditors to know if the requirement for providing “adequate housing with security of tenure” is fully being met.

Question:  What should ‘security of tenure’ look like in practice for households renting residential structures that are affected by the project? Should IRMA specify a best practice outcome? If so, what would that look like, e.g., similar housing with a 12-month lease (if there was no previous lease), or something else?

2.4.6: Specific Measures Related to Economic Displacement

If project- or operation-related land acquisition or restrictions on land use result in economic displacement in the form of displaced business operations or commercial structures, regardless of whether the affected people are physically displaced, the entity:
  1. Compensates business owners for the cost of rebuilding affected non-moveable commercial structures, for re-establishing commercial activities elsewhere, for lost net income during the period of transition, and for the costs of the transfer and reinstallation of any moveable business-relevant equipment, goods, or structures;
  2. Compensates renters of commercial structures for lost net income during the period of transition, for the costs of the transfer and reinstallation of any moveable business-relevant equipment or goods, and provides assistance to establish a new, equivalent commercial lease with secure tenure (i.e., 12 months lease); and
  3. Compensates employees of affected businesses for lost income.

NOTE for 2.4.6.1:  REVISED. This was 2.4.5.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Divided this into separate requirements for clarity, addressing displacement of commercial structures (a), renters of commercial structures (b), and impacts on business-related income for employees of commercial business owners (c).

If project- or operation-related land acquisition or restrictions on land use result in economic displacement in the form of acquisition of lands on which affected people engage in productive activities or possess productive assets, regardless of whether or not the affected people are physically displaced, the entity:
  1. Compensates affected people with legal rights or claims to lands that are recognized or recognizable under national law with replacement land of equal or greater value appropriate to the affected people’s livelihoods or, where appropriate, with cash compensation for land/improvements to the land at full replacement cost; and
  2. Compensates economically displaced people who are without legally recognizable claims to land for lost assets other than land (i.e., productive structures, crops/trees/grasses, and other improvements to lands) at full replacement cost.

NOTE for 2.4.6.2:  REVISED. This was part of 2.4.5.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We incorporated aspects of the original 2.4.5.2 into 2.4.6.1 and 2.4.6.2.

To economically displaced people whose livelihoods are wage-based or dependent upon access to natural resources and where project- or operation-related restrictions on access or other impacts adversely affect livelihoods or income levels, the entity provides:
  1. Continued access to affected resources or access to alternative resources with at least equivalent livelihood-earning potential and accessibility; or
  2. Alternative income earning opportunities to restore livelihoods that are feasible and agreed to by affected people, where circumstances prevent the entity from providing land or similar resources as described above.

NOTE for 2.4.6.3:  REVISED. This was part of 2.4.5.2 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We incorporated aspects of original 2.4.5.2 into 2.4.6.1 and 2.4.6.2 above. Requirement 2.4.6.3 now focuses specifically on displacement of land-based or wage-based livelihoods due to land access restrictions or other project impacts.

2.4.7: Resettlement and Livelihood Restoration Agreements and Implementation

If proposed mining-related activities require the displacement of Indigenous Peoples’ communities from their traditional lands or economically displace them from pursuing their traditional livelihoods, the entity obtains the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected Indigenous Peoples’ communities before proceeding with the resettlement and proposed mining-related activities (as per IRMA Chapter 2.2).

NOTE for 2.4.7.1:  This was 2.4.6.1 in the 2018 Mining Standard. In the 2018 Mining Standard there was a similar requirement (2.4.6.2) that applied to non-Indigenous peoples, but we are proposing to remove because there was nothing to be evaluated that was independent of other requirements, i.e., the evaluation of the requirement was the culmination of all other requirements because the entire chapter is premised on negotiations occurring. 

Prior to negotiating with affected people, the entity provides or facilitates access to resources necessary to participate in an informed manner. This includes, at minimum:
  1. Copies of the RAP/LRP (based on results of consultations outlined in requirement 2.4.3.1);
  2. Details on what to expect at various stages of the resettlement or livelihood restoration process (e.g., when an offer will be made to them, how long they will have to respond, how to access the grievance mechanism if they wish to appeal property or asset valuations, legal procedures to be followed if negotiations fail); and
  3. Access to independent legal experts or others to ensure that affected people understand the content of any proposed agreement and associated information.

NOTE for 2.4.7.2:  REVISED. This was 2.4.6.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We will add a guidance note for 2.4.7.3.c to clarify that assistance of legal or other expert assistance must be explicitly offered to potentially affected stakeholders.

In cases where affected people reject compensation offers that meet the requirements of this chapter and where subsequent arbitration efforts fail and, as a result, expropriation or other legal procedures are initiated, the entity explores opportunities to collaborate with the responsible government agency, and, if permitted by the agency, plays an active role in resettlement planning, implementation, and monitoring to mitigate the risk of impoverishment of affected people.

NOTE for 2.4.7.3:  REVISED. This was 2.4.6.4 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Added language of “where subsequent arbitration efforts fail” to reflect that there are additional steps (previously left implicit) between presentation of compensation offers and expropriation.

The entity does not carry out forced evictions, defined as the permanent or temporary removal against their will of people from their homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection as outlined in this chapter.

NOTE for 2.4.7.4:  REVISED. This was 2.4.6.5 in the 2018 Mining Standard. The text of this requirement has been changed to reflect an important distinction between “forced eviction” in terms of arbitrarily or systematically removing people from lands that they either own or are occupying without due process or compensation, and the involuntary removing of people from removing people from lands that have been legally acquired through an expropriation process (dealt with in the new requirement 2.4.7.5). 

Should affected people refuse to leave the lands they own or occupy at the end of a legal expropriation process preceded by good faith negotiations that meet the requirements of this chapter, the entity only removes people from their lands in accordance with law and international best practice, meaning the entity:
  1. Provides affected people with clear and timely information on the procedures for and timing of proposed evictions;
  2. Gives adequate and reasonable notice to all affected people prior to the scheduled date of eviction;
  3. Arranges for government officials or their representatives, and any relevant local authorities, to be present during the removal;
  4. Does not carry out removals in particularly bad weather or at night unless the affected people consent otherwise;
  5. Provide information about legal remedies and where possible, legal aid to people who are in need of it to seek redress from the courts;
  6. Identifies all people carrying out the removal and ensures that they are trained on human rights and the appropriate use of force; and
  7. Establishes and trains relevant people on procedures describing appropriate actions to take in case of conflicts or violent opposition to the removals.

NOTE for 2.4.7.5:  NEW. We are proposing to add this requirement to address an absence of requirements concerning the conditions under which forced removals of project-affected people can take place (i.e., at the end of a legal expropriation process) and how those removals should occur. This requirement draws on guidance from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  

The entity takes possession of acquired land and related assets only after full compensation has been made available and replacement housing/lands /assets and moving allowances have been provided to the displaced people, where applicable.

NOTE for 2.4.7.6:  This was 2.4.6.6 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

The entity takes steps to avoid temporary transitional resettlement. Where temporary transitional resettlement cannot be avoided, the entity ensures that:
  1. Affected people have been consulted on the implications of transitional temporary relocation and are in agreement;
  2. Transitional temporary residential structures and replacement lands meet the requirements of this chapter (i.e., housing adequate, respect for social networks and stakeholder preferences, access to basic amenities, adequate to support livelihoods including continued access to natural resources, etc.);
  3. Transitional temporary resettlement is time-bound and agreed upon with affected people; and
  4. Affected people are duly compensated for the multiple disruptions to their lives.

NOTE for 2.4.7.7:  NEW. We are proposing this addition to address a concern indicated by working group members and resettlement practitioners about the lack of attention paid to issues of temporary or multiple displacements. Temporary displacement can result from temporary land acquisition wherein an entity only requires use of/access to lands for a limited period of times (e.g., during construction due to noise impacts or risks associated with equipment transport). Temporary resettlement can also occur when entities permanently acquire lands and clear people from those lands before providing them with replacement lands/residential structures, thus requiring them to move to a transitional temporary location until their permanent location/assets are ready (hence, ‘temporary transitional resettlement’). For physically displaced people in particular, this entails a double disruption to their lives (the transitional move, and then the permanent move when replacement land/housing is available) and makes it difficult for them to reestablish social networks and build a sense of community. Therefore, best practice suggests that this should be avoided. 

PROPOSAL: For displacement taking place after 2012 and prior to the release of the updated version 2.0 of the IRMA Standard, entities can choose not to be audited against this requirement.  This ‘cutoff date ‘of 2012 because this date marks the release of the most up-to-date edition of IFC’s Sustainability Framework, including the Performance Standards (PS) on Environmental and Social Sustainability upon which many requirements in this standard these derive their content. However, in recognition that this requirement arguably goes beyond the IFC PS, we are proposing to exempt entities that conducted land acquisition prior to 2024 (i.e., the release of this standard) from meeting this requirement as it cannot be said to have been normative prior to the release of this standard.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-4

Background:  Per IRMA guidance for requirement 2.4.7.6 (which was 2.4.6.6 in the 2018 Mining Standard) the IFC PS5 requires entities to pay compensation and provide affected people with replacement lands/structures prior to displacement, while recognizing that circumstances can arise in which it is not feasible to do so. However, there is little international guidance detailing how these ‘transitional’ temporary resettlements should occur. Requirement 2.4.7.7 is designed to fill this gap and ensure that the treatment of displaced people subject to transitional temporary physical resettlement is done in a manner that is consistent with the spirit of this chapter in terms of reducing vulnerability and ensuring that stakeholders are not made worse off as a result of displacement.

Question:  Do you agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed? And if so, do you have any feedback on the requirement as proposed?

All transactions to acquire land rights and all compensation discussions, measures, and resettlement activities are documented.

NOTE for 2.4.7.8:  This was 2.4.6.8 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

In the case of voluntary displacement (i.e., willing buyer-seller transactions where there is no recourse to expropriation), the entity ensures that:
  1. All land transactions are documented;
  2. Affected people are paid a fair (market) price paid;
  3. Landowners (sellers) have sufficient information about project timelines and the various options available to them (including the voluntary nature of the sale) to make an informed decision;
  4. Decisions are made free of coercion and on a timeline conducive to informed decision-making and consultation with family members/legal experts as necessary; and
  5. Informal land occupants are identified and considered in a way that is consistent with the contents of this chapter relating to involuntarily displaced people as well as the chapter on Human Rights Due Diligence (Chapter 1.3).

NOTE for 2.4.7.9:  NEW. We are proposing to add this requirement in recognition that risks in market transactions arise when there is incomplete information on behalf of the seller (e.g., as to what constitutes fair market value), inability/unwillingness of the seller to advocate for their own best interest, and/or feelings of coercion or obligation to sell (whether real or perceived). In many instances in which resettlement occurs, the ‘sellers’ are characterized by at least one of the above conditions. Moreover, inherent to the “willing buyer-seller” transaction is the idea of formal, private land ownership. This means that vulnerable households physically residing informally or without legal rights on project-affected lands could be forcibly evicted with no protections by a project subsequently seeking IRMA certification. Therefore, IRMA has added this requirement to ensure voluntary land transactions meet basic requirements for voluntarily displaced people (landowners engaged in willing buyer-seller transactions) and to identify and address involuntary displacement of vulnerable people that may occur as a result of willing buyer-seller transactions.

PROPOSAL: For voluntary displacement taking place after 2012 and prior to the release of the updated version 2.0 of the IRMA Standard, entities can choose not to be audited against this requirement. This cutoff date of 2012 because this date marks the release of the most up-to-date edition of IFC’s Sustainability Framework, including the Performance Standards (PS) on Environmental and Social Sustainability upon which these chapters are based. However, in recognition that this requirement arguably goes beyond the IFC PS, we are proposing to exempt entities that conducted land acquisition prior to the release of the updated IRMA standard from meeting this requirement as it cannot be said to have been normative prior to the release of this standard.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-5

Background:  The current proposal for requirement 2.4.7.9 is that entities undertaking their land acquisition between 2012 and the release of the updated IRMA Standard can choose to be exempted from this requirement, based on the logic that regulation of voluntary land transactions goes beyond the IFC PS and therefore cannot be said to have been normative (and therefore expected of entities) beginning in 2012. 

However, one might also argue that the requirements indicated for voluntary transactions (fair market price, decisions made free of coercion, etc.) constitute norms of fair market value transactions that were normative long before 2012.

Question:  Do you agree with the proposed approach of allowing entities whose land acquisition occurred between 2012 and the release of IRMA Version 2.0 (2024) to choose to be audited (or not) against this requirement (2.4.7.9 – obligation to assess and ensure quality of “voluntary” [willing buyer-seller] transactions) as it was arguably not considered international best practice.  

Or do you believe that despite not falling under the gamut of the IFC standards (the motivation for the current ‘exemption’ clause indicated above), 2.4.7.9 reflects extant normative expectations since 2012 concerning the characteristics and outcomes of good faith free-market negotiations, and that it should therefore be applied retroactively to all voluntary land acquisition processes occurring between 2012 and the release of the updated IRMA Standard? Put differently, do you agree that entities should not be exempt from this requirement in the updated IRMA Standard, as they are from others that arguably go beyond IFC norms?

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-6  

Background:  The previous consultation question suggests that the conditions under which voluntary (willing buyer-seller) land transactions occur in the context of land acquisition for mining-related activities often do not meet the requirements for truly voluntary (informed, equitable, non-coerced) land transactions. 

Question:  If that is the case, should IRMA go further than the proposed 2.4.7.9 for entities undertaking land acquisition after the release of the updated IRMS Standard and require that all land acquisition be treated as “involuntary,” regardless of whether it is what the IFC deems to be involuntary (i.e., the entity has recourse to expropriation) or voluntary (willing buyer-seller)? 

This would mean that entities acquiring lands after the release of this version of the IRMA Standard would therefore be required to meet the full set of requirements in this Chapter 2.4A, including not only the outcome components (full replacement value, livelihood restoration, etc.) but also the process requirements such as creation of a transparent common compensation framework, community engagement, creation of a RAP/LRP, etc. 

2.4.8: Resettlement and Livelihood Restoration Monitoring and Evaluation

Procedures to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of a RAP/LRP are in place, and the entity takes corrective actions as necessary until the provisions of the RAP/LRP and the objectives of this chapter have been met. These procedures are designed and implemented by competent professionals with expertise and experience in monitoring and evaluation of land acquisition and resettlement.

NOTE for 2.4.8.1:  REVISED. This was 2.4.7.1 and was a critical requirement in the 2018 Mining Standard (for more on critical requirements see the note that accompanies ‘Critical Requirements In This Chapter,’ above). We combined the previous 2.4.7.1 and 2.4.7.2.a to ensure that the ‘competence’ of those designing monitoring and evaluation activities was also incorporated into this critical requirement. We removed reference to ‘significant social impacts’ which was in 2.4.7.2.a, in recognition that 1) all resettlements pose a risk of significant social impacts if not done well, and therefore; 2) all resettlement monitoring and evaluation should be designed and/or implemented by competent professionals.

Monitoring and evaluation indicators will incorporate both input and outcome related criteria that are substantively and directly linked to the objectives of the RAP/LRP to restore or, ideally, improve affected people’s livelihoods and standards of living.

NOTE for 2.4.8.2:  NEW. We are proposing to add this because feedback from working group members and other resettlement experts indicated that monitoring and evaluation was too often focused on inputs rather than outcomes. An input-focused approach is not conducive to evaluating the success or impact over time of restoration measures on the lives of those impacted.

The entity reports periodically to affected people and other relevant stakeholders on progress made toward full implementation of the RAP/LRP.

NOTE for 2.4.8.3:  This was 2.4.7.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard.

When the entity determines that its RAP/LRP has been successfully and fully implemented, a completion audit is commissioned and undertaken to determine if the objectives of the RAP/LRP have been met. The completion audit:
  1. Is carried out by external competent professionals with expertise in livelihood restoration and/or resettlement as applicable;
  2. Includes a review of the mitigation measures implemented by the entity and a comparison of implementation outcomes against the requirements of this RAP/LRP;
  3. Clearly demonstrates that the objectives of the RAP/LRP have been successfully met (and therefore the monitoring process can be ceased); and
  4. Is made available to affected people and their advisors.

NOTE for 2.4.8.4:  This was 2.4.7.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. Minor structural changes.

If the completion audit determines that the objectives of the RAP and/or LRP have not been met, a corrective action plan is developed and implemented. This plan includes concrete measures to be implemented and a timeline budget for doing so and provisions for a second completion audit that meets the requirements of 2.4.8.4 when the objectives of the correction action plan are deemed to have met the objectives of the RAP and/or LRP.

NOTE for 2.4.8.5:  NEW. We propose to add this requirement as the 2018 Standard offered guidance notes but did not explicitly include a requirement indicating obligations of entities in instances where the original completion audit determines the objectives of the RAP/LRP have not been met. This is based on guidance included in IFC PS Guidance Notes 5. Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement. Para. 15, Footnote 18.

2.4.9: Private Sector Responsibilities Under Government-Managed Resettlement

Where land acquisition and resettlement are the responsibility of the government, the entity collaborates with the responsible government agency, to the extent permitted by the agency, to identify government resettlement and compensation measures. If these measures do not meet the relevant requirements of this chapter, the entity prepares a supplemental plan that, together with the documents prepared by the responsible government agency, addresses the relevant requirements of this chapter. The entity includes in its supplemental plan, at a minimum:
  1. Identification of affected people and impacts;
  2. A description of regulated activities, including the entitlements of physically and economically displaced people provided under applicable national laws and regulations;
  3. The supplemental measures to achieve the requirements of this chapter in a manner that is permitted by the responsible agency and implementation time schedule; and
  4. The financial and implementation responsibilities of the entity in the execution of its supplemental plan.

NOTE for 2.4.9.1:  REVISED. This was a combination of 2.4.8.2 and 2.4.8.3 in the 2018 Mining Standard. We combined the previous 2.4.8.2 and 2.4.8.3 into this requirement reduce redundancy as both spoke to the need to collaborate with government bodies.

CONSULTATION QUESTION 2.4A-7 

Background:  As per IRMA Chapter 1.1, entities are not expected to violate host country law in order to meet IRMA requirements. Therefore, under both the 2018 and this proposed version of the IRMA Standard entities will only be expected to fulfill IRMA requirements to the extent that is possible within the law in situations where host country law largely controls the resettlement process. If the law is silent on aspects addressed in the IRMA chapter, then entities will be expected to advocate for their inclusion in government resettlement projects or plans, or the entity should include those provisions in their own supplemental resettlement plan. This is aligned with the IFC PS, which state that, “While government agencies are often mandated to lead resettlement efforts, experience indicates that there are generally opportunities for clients to either influence or supplement the planning, implementation and monitoring of government-led resettlement…”    

However, the auditing of this requirement as written is challenging because, if an entity applies for IRMA assessment and their land acquisition was (or will be) government-led, then the Standard as currently written asks them to attempt – to the extent possible – to meet all of the requirements in this entire chapter but only evaluates them against 2.4.9.1. This puts the full weight of the chapter onto a single requirement and does not allow the audit report to easily capture nuances such as which of the various components of this chapter the entity did or did not meet and/or where the entity failed to meet a component due to negligence/omission versus where they made a good faith effort to do so but were constrained by government regulations. 

Working group members also expressed concerns that hinging an entity’s performance on this ‘best effort’ requirement in the case of a government-led resettlement might allow entities to shift blame onto governments for poorly executed resettlements and claim ‘government restrictions’ prevented them from fair compensation and due process. Even where the entity does indeed make acceptable efforts to supplement or substitute government actions, in instances where government regulations are particularly restrictive, IRMA could end up certifying a land acquisition/resettlement process that is, in fact, deeply problematic.  

Question:  Is it common that host country laws explicitly prohibit private entities from supplementing/supporting land acquisition processes (i.e., engagement, notification timelines, etc.) and outcomes (i.e., compensation and other support) provided for by government bodies? If so, should entities be simply evaluated against the extent of their demonstrable efforts to influence government (the 2018 and proposed approach)? If not, should entities be audited against the full set of requirements of this chapter, regardless of whether it is an entity-led or government-led land acquisition/resettlement?