Why IndustriALL Global Union is Working for a Sustainable Mining Standard

November 6, 2014

By Glen Mpufane, Director of Mining and Diamonds, Gems, Ornaments and Jewellery Production, IndustriALL Global Union

IndustriALL Global Union is a global union that represents over 50 million workers in 141 countries around the world. The mining industry is a key sector within IndustriALL Global Union. We are therefore proud to be working with the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) in a multi-sector effort to develop a credible certification and assurance reporting system for the mining industry.                 

Despite the challenges, we continue to support IRMA’s development of a certification system for mining operations because we know first-hand the incredible importance of a safer, cleaner industry that respects the rights of workers, impacted communities and the environment. We are committed to putting human rights at the heart of sustainable development in the mining industry. The IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining will be a big step forward toward that goal.

The success of IRMA is a key priority for IndustriALL’s mining sector activities. IRMA is the first international certification procedure to include proper worker participation and, therefore, will be the first to award credible certification on mines with high social and environmental performance. Its credibility arises out of the robust, transparent and independent multi-stakeholder engagement and governance that has come to define IRMA.

It comes as no surprise that industry-run certification regimes have a way of awarding certificates of good practice to companies with poor workers’ rights and environmental records.

From Mongolia to the Philippines to Mozambique, mining has huge impacts on people and communities. Workers are hardest hit by those impacts both on the job and in their community life. By collaborating with other stakeholders for an independent certification regime, we can help ensure industrial-scale mines that no longer engage in the worst practices, while striving to operationalize the best.

IRMA is also important to us because it will provide a transparent and independent way for consumers, nations and retailers to purchase from those mines that do employ best practices for human rights and workers’ rights. This is turn can help move the rest of the industry forward.

Now that the draft Standard has been released, and diverse stakeholders are commenting upon in it in anticipation of a final standard, we will continue to work toward a final product that prioritizes the rights of mine workers, communities and the environment. There is work still to be done, and we are determined to do it. Our vision is of a global mining industry that respects workers, communities and the environment. IRMA’s final Standard will, we hope, be a big step forward in making that hope a reality.

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