The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) has released the global certification programme for industrial-scale mine sites, as part of a multi-sector initiative to certify the social and environmental performance of mines.

Known as the Standard for Responsible Mining, the certification programme was developed after holding consultations with relevant stakeholders over ten years and receiving feedback on two previous draft versions released in 2014 and 2016.

The programme was driven by the increasing focus of various industries, including jewellery, electronics, and automotive, on ecologically and socially-responsible products.

“It is important to have standards that meet the needs of the wide variety of customers that mining serves.”

According to IRMA, buyers have sought assurances that the minerals or any metal being sold to them are mined responsibly.

Furthermore, the body has unveiled an online Responsible Mining Map that enables stakeholders to connect with others interested in responsible mining.

During the development of the standard, the body collected inputs from more than 100 companies, organisations and individuals around the world.

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By GlobalData

Two field studies of the Standard for Responsible Mining were conducted to test how it works in practice.

With the help of technical experts, the first field test was conducted at the Stillwater Mining Company’s platinum/palladium mine in Montana, US in October 2015, while the second was undertaken at Anglo American’s Unki Platinum mine in Zimbabwe in March 2016.

As part of the studies, auditors reviewed company documentation, made first-hand observations at the mine sites, and conducted interviews to verify the requirements in the Standard are clear, practicable, and measurable.

Anglo American Social Performance and Engagement group head Jon Samuel said: “As interest in the responsible sourcing of metals and minerals grows it is important to have standards that meet the needs of the wide variety of customers that mining serves, and address the expectations of society as a whole.”

“We look forward to trialling the IRMA Self-Assessment Tool and to continuing to contribute to the development of IRMA as a demonstration of our commitment to responsible mining.”

Besides buyers’ demand for greater options in sourcing responsibly mined materials, the Standard is aimed at meeting civil society’s call for transparency and independent verification.

Under the Standard for Responsible Mining, miners need to implement best practices in areas such as health and safety for workers, human rights, community engagement, pollution control, mining in conflict-affected areas, and rights of indigenous peoples.

In addition, the standard envisages transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments, and land reclamation after completion of mining.