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.


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 in the first quarter of 2016. A public report on the field test will be posted on the IRMA Standard Development webpage in the coming weeks.

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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.

IRMA expects to begin certifying mine sites in 2016 so that companies can support the mining of minerals and metals that is consistent with healthy communities and environments, and that leaves positive long-term legacies.

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.

The IRMA Mission

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

IRMA Principles of Engagement

Participants in IRMA agree to the following principles as a basis for their participation in IRMA and/or initiatives or projects that flow out of IRMA:

  1. We are committed to and recognize the value of a multi-sector process and solutions with the participation of all sectors.
  2. We acknowledge that we must develop strategies and systems that add value for all sectors, recognizing that different sectors define value differently.
  3. We recognize that while we may not always agree, and that sometimes our disagreements may be aired in public, we see value in finding solutions where we are able to find agreement. We are therefore committed to dialogue despite these disagreements or differences of opinion.
  4. We are committed to a process that seeks to improve and advance best practices and standards.
  5. We will seek to learn from and build upon current examples of site-based good practice as well as broader initiatives that are underway.
  6. We will seek to identify and recognize progress and improvements at existing operations, understanding that there could be, in some cases, inherent limits as to what can be achieved at these sites. We recognize that in certain cases sites with complex and challenging issues could implement improvements that could lead to certification.
  7. We recognize that in certain cases, whether or not there is governmental approval, due to potential impacts or other values or benefits, no mining could be the best option. We seek to advance methodologies that allow such decisions to be made within a sustainable development context. We also recognize that we must pursue solutions that avoid simply leaving the mining of such sites to less responsible operators.
  8. We will ground our standard setting and verification process in sound science with regard to all stages of mine development through closure, giving careful consideration to identified risks, while recognizing that scientific uncertainty is not a reason for inaction, and respecting traditional knowledge, custom and values.
  9. We agree that efficiency is essential.  We seek to develop and advance criteria, targets, benchmarks and processes that integrate, whenever possible, existing tools, processes and resources, such as current reporting or auditing. We seek to build on existing knowledge and systems where applicable.
  10. We agree to develop a list of agreed-upon topics for standards that includes, at a minimum, those topics previously agreed upon in IRMA.
  11. We recognize that it is essential to develop a system that enables mutually acceptable, credible, independent, third-party verification of compliance with standards, thresholds or performance targets.  Accordingly, we seek to create a system that offers public recognition for such compliance and a mechanism to ensure that these commitments are being met in practice on an ongoing basis.

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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.