In April 2016 IRMA released a revised draft Standard for Responsible Mining for public review and comment. Dozens of stakeholders interested in responsible mining responded with suggestions on how to improve the Standard.

IRMA will be revising the draft Standard for Responsible Mining in the coming months. To keep abreast of IRMA's progress, sign up for our e-newsletter.

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is establishing a multi-stakeholder and independently verifiable responsible mining assurance system that improves social and environmental performance.

The IRMA Vision

Mining is a complex and intensive process that causes environmental and social change no matter where it occurs. IRMA's vision is that of a world in which the mining industry respects human rights and the aspirations of affected communities; provides safe, healthy and respectful workplaces; avoids or minimizes harm to the environment; and leaves positive legacies.

IRMA Fundamentals

  • The IRMA Standard is targeted at industrial-scale mines. IRMA collaborates with initiatives for responsible small-scale and artisanal mining.
  • IRMA works across all locations, commodities and mine types. However, IRMA does not provide assurance for oil, gas, uranium and other energy fuels.
  • IRMA collaborates with other sustainability standards initiatives for the extractives sector to provide complete solutions for certification, traceability and labeling.

The IRMA Mission

To establish a multi-stakeholder and independently verified responsible mining assurance system that improves social and environmental performance.

IRMA Background

Founded in 2006 by a coalition of nongovernment organizations, businesses purchasing minerals and metals for resale in other products, affected communities, mining companies, and trade unions, IRMA is developing standards for environmental and social issues related to mining, including labor rights, human rights, indigenous peoples and cultural heritage, conflict response, pollution control and site closure; and it is developing a system of independent, third-party verification to enable mine sites to credibly demonstrate that they are operating in a manner that is consistent with healthy communities and environments, and that leaves positive long-term legacies.

IRMA is planning to beta test its certification system in 2017. Mine sites participating in the beta test phase of IRMA's development will be eligible for certification. Learn more about IRMA's responsible mining certification

Impacts of Mining

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 is a complex and intensive process that causes environmental and social change no matter where it occurs. Mining-related disruptions impact the physical environment (through, for instance, loss of habitat and contamination of surface and ground waters) and local communities (through, for instance, displacement of livelihoods and cultural impacts).

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.

A first draft of the Standard was released for public comment in July 2014. A second draft of the Standard for Responsible Mining was released in April 2016. The IRMA Secretariat is now working on revisions to the Standard based on stakeholder input.

View the current draft IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (v.2.0, April, 2016)

View information about the first draft IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (v.1.0, July, 2014), including IRMA's responses to comments on that draft.

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.


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. The winners of SPLC’s Awards exemplify and support a constructive cycle of innovation that will define the global marketplace of tomorrow.” The award was accepted by IRMA representatives at the Summit in Washington, D.C. on 25 May. 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.

25 March 2016 -- On 5 April 2016 IRMA will release the revised draft Standard for Responsible Mining for public review and comment. Sign up to our enewsletter list to receive notice of the release and updates on how to learn more.

24 March 2016 -- IRMA just completed the second field test of the draft Standard for Responsible Mining at Anglo American's Unki Mine near Shurugwi, Zimbabwe. The purpose of the field test was not to audit the Unki site but rather to reflect back on the clarity and quality of the draft Standard. A team of auditors contracted by IRMA walked the ground of the site, discussed operations with local management, and met with mineworkers in effort to evaluate ways the draft Standard might be improved for clarity, assure requirements best serve a given chapter's intention, and that the Standard can be measured/audited in reasonable time. Learning from this field test will inform ongoing revision of the draft Standard. A public report from this field test will be made available once complete.

23 November 2015 --  In mid-October, IRMA completed the first field test of its draft Standard for Responsible Mining at the Stillwater Mining Company's platinum/palladium mine in Montana, USA. Learning from the field test will be integrated into the next version of the draft Standard, due to be released 5 April, 2016. A public report on the Stillwater field test is now available. Read the report.

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