Why Microsoft is Collaborating to Improve Global Mining Standards

April 7, 2016

By Joan Krajewski, General Manager, Compliance and Safety at Microsoft

This week, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) released the second and revised draft version of the Standard for Responsible Mining, a multi-sector-led effort to certify social and environmental performance at industrial-scale mine sites around the world.

Gold, iron ore, copper and many other minerals and metals are used in everything from cell phones, jewelry, to building materials and auto parts. Mining companies recognize the expectation to manage their process and operations more sustainably from purchasers, NGOs and communities.

The draft Standard for Responsible Mining has been created as a collaborative effort, bringing people and stakeholders together to balance the interests of different sectors. It is the result of ten years of collaboration between groups from the mining industry, organized labor, nongovernmental organizations, impacted communities, and businesses.

As a downstream purchaser of components which may contain metals, Microsoft believes that fairly applied global mining standards are key to helping solve labor, human rights, and environmental issues at the far reaches of the electronic industries’ supply chains. This approach is in line with our company’s mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. As such, we see the need to address the issues associated with all aspects of the acquisition of raw materials—from harvesting and extraction to transportation—as a global accountability applicable to all substances used in our products, regardless of materials or locations.

In a future with more people and more demands on our resources, continuing to be vigilant around approaching these issues in a sustainable and scalable manner is important. Although our raw material providers for packaging and hardware are not directly contracted by Microsoft, we believe that collaborative initiatives like these can truly help improve practices associated with mining of metal ores at their source, which is why we work closely with and support IRMA.

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