While there are mining operations that meet high standards for environmental and social performance, far too many mining operations cause significant social and environmental impacts. IRMA exists because its stakeholders recognize the need to create incentives to promote responsible practice – and the need for truly independent verification of compliance with best practice standards.
To view a short slideshow summarizing the IRMA process, click here.
IRMA has hired a Managing Director! London-based Matthew Wenban-Smith has joined IRMA, coming from his previous work with Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council and his own consulting firm One World Standards. See an April 2013 press release for more information on Matthew's experience and reactions to his hire.
The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assuranace (IRMA) launched in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2006, to develop and establish a voluntary system to independently verify compliance with environmental, human rights and social standards for mining operations.
IRMA builds on the experience of sustainability standards setting and certification systems for such commodities as organic produce, eco-labeled wood and fish, fair trade coffee, and others. There is a growing body of evidence consumers, producers, and retailers are willing to accept sustainability standards as credible and valuable. Multiple consumer surveys demonstrate that a significant portion of the consumer population in Europe and the United States is willing to pay a price premium for products that have credible claims of social and environmental superiority.
Downstream companies including brokers, fabricators, and retailers also indicate a willingness to work with IRMA-certified products if they garner a high-level of support from nongovernment organizations (NGOs). A 2010 survey of business, government, and non-governmental organizations at the forefront of corporate social and environmental responsibility found that two-thirds are already using one or more sustainability standard systems with 73% willing to consider using more standard systems to achieve their objectives.
IRMA believes that systems that are designed and governed by the full spectrum of involved stakeholders are more credible and accountable to all those who participate or are affected across the value chain. This belief was confirmed by a 2010 survey of corporate responsibility leaders who noted that the reputation of a standard is key to adoption and that reputation lies in such factors as credible verification, good governance, and a multi-stakeholder approach.