IRMA is an answer to a global demand for more socially and environmentally responsible mining.

IRMA Launch Phase 2018-2019: Putting the IRMA System into practice

IRMA’s Launch Phase is designed for learning, improving, and assuring the verification system is accountable to all stakeholder groups. During Launch, mines are offered an opportunity to apply for recognition of achievement in environmental and social responsibility. The new certification scheme will also give purchasers a pathway to connect with leading mines through their supply chains. Civil society stakeholders — workers, local communities and nonprofit nongovernment organizations — will have increased access to information and communication with mines willing to lead.

Key Components of Launch:

In early 2018, IRMA will offer:

IRMA is seeking constructive feedback on each of these elements and will apply learning to improve the system before offering mines full Certification and entry-level Candidate achievement status starting in 2019. 

The Launch Phase Standard for Responsible Mining

A first phase Standard, which offers metrics for responsible mining practices across a broad range of social, environmental and business practices. The Standard for Responsible Mining fundamentally is a shared definition of how “responsible mining” can be measured. While no individual stakeholder is likely to agree with all of the content therein, it represents ten years of good faith effort across diverse sectors to develop a shared vision. Launch Phase will test this definition and seek to improve to the benefit of all.

Self-Assessment Tool (Optional)

Mines may use IRMA’s Self Assessment and Self Scoring (SASS) tool to determine their readiness for an audit and prepare documents ahead of the audit. While not required, it is recommended that mines use this tool to prepare themselves prior to investing resources in an audit. In 2018, mines Self Assessing may list themselves on the IRMA Map (see more below); this allows these mines a chance to identify their willingness to participate in the global dialogue on responsible mining and connect with interested purchasers/investors even before full scoring/certification begins.

All companies using the SASS tool will be encouraged to provide feedback to IRMA to improve the Standard and self-assessment process. The feedback is primarily for IRMA learning purposes, and individual responses will not be attributed without permission. 

IRMA Map - An Interactive Responsible Mining Transparency Map

The IRMA MapAll stakeholders/rights-holders will be invited to participate in the IRMA Map. Mining companies, Purchasers and Civil Society groups will have the option to “Get on the Map” and demonstrate their role and interest in responsible mining as well as identify where they fall in the supply chain.  

*Image on left is a sample. 

  • Mines can list their effort Self Assessing (see above) and later in auditor-verified scoring (see below).
  • Purchasers/investors can list their interest to source from and engage with mines seeking to improve practices.
  • Civil society (communities, NGOs, labor) can describe their work and interest to forward more responsible mining.

This interactive map – a marketplace of ideas and values (defined broadly across sectors) -- will give interested purchasers and others increased information on the social and environmental performance of mines and will allow mines to better understand the expectations of purchasers and other stakeholders. 

Hosting a Global Dialogue

The map described above is one of several venues IRMA will offer to assure a fair and respectful discussion of the variety of issues associated with responsible mining. In addition to the map, IRMA will seek further public review on the metrics of the Standard that need to be improved (particularly from mines as they self-assess), and we will host working groups to address controversial issues needing cross-sector discussion to reach shared solutions.

IRMA will also be proactively collaborating with colleagues working to forward more responsible mining at the artisanal scale level (ASM mining) and with others working on materials retrieval/recycling. While IRMA’s focus is to create an incentive for more responsible practices at industrial scale mines, we don’t want to unintentionally have a negative impact on the equally important value for improvement in ASM and materials retrieval.

IRMA Membership 

Membership in IRMA offers several benefits, the primary benefit being participation in IRMA’s multi-stakeholder governance process. Companies, organizations and community representatives interested in the Board of Directors, committees (formal and ad hoc) and working groups will be able to join as members early in 2018. IRMA also welcomes Subscribers who want access to information and engagement but don’t need member-voting rights. 

Independent Auditor Verification

In mid-2018 IRMA will begin offering auditor-verified scoring of achievement against the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. Independent third-party auditors will be trained and accredited. Mines may choose to have an auditor review of their performance against the full Standard or just select chapters of particular interest (for their engagement with key purchasers/stakeholders).

In 2018 these scores will not be associated with particular IRMA achievement levels (e.g. “certification”) but rather will stand on their own as IRMA works with all stakeholders to learn and improve systems. Mines may choose to share their auditor-verified score on the IRMA Map (see above) and thus connect with purchasers, investors and other stakeholders interested in connecting with mines committed to this effort and transparency. During Launch Phase, participation in the global dialogue will itself be acknowledged as an achievement of leadership.


Modern societies rely on mining, minerals, and metals to function. Nearly everything in the built environment – from buildings to roads to computers and trains – contains materials extracted from the Earth’s surface. 

Mining can provide important employment and financial opportunity for host communities. Mining is also a complex and intensive process that causes environmental and social change no matter where it occurs. Mining may impact the physical environment (e.g., loss of habitat, contamination of water) and local communities’ social and economic lives (e.g., displacement of livelihoods, cultural impacts). However, most negative social and environmental impacts are avoidable if companies operate according to leading standards. 

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) seeks to recognize mine sites practicing environmental and social responsibility and create further value and incentive for this effort. IRMA envisions a world where the mining industry respects the human rights and aspirations of affected communities, provides safe, healthy and supportive workplaces, minimizes harm to the environment, and leaves positive legacies. 

The Purpose of IRMA

IRMA’s purpose is to demonstrate value for such a world through a Standard that describes social and environmental performance, and a system that delivers recognition for achievement of benchmarks against that Standard. IRMA links investors and private sector purchasers of mined material with mines seeking to lead. IRMA’s system offers accountability and credibility through multi-stakeholder governance and independent third-party verification.

Responsible Mining

Although some degree of disturbance is inevitable even in the best-managed mines, and in some cases ‘no mining’ may be the best option, we believe that most negative social and environmental impacts are avoidable if companies operate according to the best possible standards. Elements of such responsible mining practices include:

Mine location. Mine owners and operators need to carefully weigh land and resource use options and preserve ecologically and culturally significant areas.

Environmental management. Where possible, mining operators need to reduce the environmental impact from habitat loss and pollution during all stages of mine development.

Workers and affected communities. This includes issues related to the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples for mining, health and safety provisions, and sharing benefits more broadly.

Corporate governance. Mine operators need to ensure transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments and report on progress made toward implementing responsible practices.

The IRMA Standard

The Standard for Responsible Mining is an integral piece of the IRMA certification system. It outlines a set of best-practice requirements that were developed and are being revised through multi-stakeholder processes. IRMA encourages mining companies to adhere to these responsible mining practices and to demonstrate compliance by participating in IRMA's independently verifiable responsible mining assurance system.

IRMA in the News

To see our most recent press release and news archives, visit the IRMA media web page. Also available, the IRMA blog and sign up to receive IRMA’s e-newsletter updates.


10 July 2017 -- IRMA is seeking public comment on a new draft chapter to be added to the its Standard for Responsible Mining. IRMA will be accepting comments on its Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining chapter until 8 September 2017. For more information, go to the IRMA Standard Draft v.2.0 page.

22 June 2017 -- Today, the leadership of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and ResponsibleSteel™ announced a strategic partnership, to serve the interests of purchasers seeking consistency in the responsible sourcing of iron and steel throughout their supply chains. Read more.

9 March 2017 -- IRMA and the Forest Stewardship Council – a global standard and certification leader – have partnered to serve the needs of diverse stakeholders committed to creating market value for greater environmental and social responsibility. Leading purchasers and retailers procure raw materials originating from both forestry and mining operations and seek ways to assure responsible sourcing. Through collaboration, IRMA and FSC are well positioned to increase consistency and serve the needs of the common market. Read More.

9 March 2017 -- The IRMA Steering Committee welcomes Jacinda Mack of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (British Columbia, Canada) and Dewa Mavhinga of Human Rights Watch (Zimbabwe/South Africa) to its leadership. They each bring substantial first-hand expertise in serving the Community and Non-Government/Nonprofit (NGO) sectors of IRMA, respectively. 

5 June 2016 -- As a result of numerous stakeholder requests for extensions, IRMA has extended the comment period on draft v.2.0 of the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining to 30 June 2016.

25 May 2016 --  IRMA is thrilled to be a recipient of an award at the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council’s (SPLC) 2016 Summit. In SPLC's words, “Award winners are organizations who focus the powerful market influence of institutional purchasers – in public and private sectors alike – to advance a socially just, ecologically robust, economically prosperous future. . .and support a constructive cycle of innovation that will define the global marketplace of tomorrow.” Read an abstract of the IRMA submission.

5 April 2016 -- IRMA today released the revised draft Standard for Responsible Mining for public review and comment. Please assist us in further improving this document to serve all stakeholders by reviewing and commenting with your suggestions. You may also review the associated press release for a short synopsis of the effort.

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Photo: Earthworks