IRMA Certification to be Offered After IRMA's Launch Phase

IRMA will not be offering mine-site certification until late 2019, after we have had time to thoroughly test the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining v.1.0 and train independent auditors to assess mine site performance. In the meantime, there are multiple ways for mining companies to engage with IRMA and gain recognition for leadership in responsible mining through IRMA's Launch Phase Offerings.

Mines can engage now in IRMA Launch Phase

The IRMA Launch Phase is underway. This early phase is designed to encourage rapid learning will serve as the development ground for key aspects of IRMA's Standard for Responsible Mining and IRMA's independent assurance program. During Launch Phase, IRMA will be evaluating its systems and metrics, addressing challenges and gaps, and seeking to improve in real time. Click here or on diagram below to see a larger version of the Launch Phase Offerings.

Ways to Engage

Get on the Responsible Mining Map:  On 28 June 2018 IRMA launched the Responsible Mining Map, an interactive tool that enables stakeholders to create connections with others interested in responsible mining.

Any mining company (or other stakeholder) that is interested may get on the map, and mine sites participating in the IRMA system (through self-assessment, independent auditing/scoring and eventually certification) are invited to be on the map.

This exposure via the IRMA Map will help mining companies and mine sites demonstrate their commitment to responsible mining and achievement of varying levels of environmental and social performance over time.

Mine Site Self-Assessment:  In late July 2018 IRMA will be launching an online tool that can be used by mines to assess their performance against the requirements in the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining v.1.0. Scores will be calculated for each chapter of the IRMA Standard that is assessed.

Participating mines are invited to create a Map Site Profile for the Responsible Mining Map, and if they so choose, they may disclose on the map that they are self-assessing, and/or disclose their scores when the mine's self-assessment has been completed.

Independent Auditing and Scoring:  Later in 2018, mines will have the opportunity to use IRMA-trained auditors to evaluate their performance and have an independent, third-party way to verify that they have achieved a certain level (score) of social and environmental performance.

Mines will have the option to create a Map Site Profile for the Responsible Mining Map, and if they so choose, they may disclose on the map that they being independently audited, and/or disclose their scores when the independent audit has been completed.

Mine Site Certification:  In late 2019, after IRMA releases a revised Standard for Responsible Mining (v.2.0) based on Launch Phase learning, mines will have the opportunity to use IRMA-trained auditors to evaluate mine site environmental and social performance and, if mines are successful, to be certified as meeting the IRMA Standard.

Certified mines will be able to create a Map Site Profile for the Responsible Mining Map, and let the world know that they are a certified responsible mine in the IRMA system.

Pilot projects and partnerships:  Mining companies and mine sites are invited to partner with IRMA to test IRMA Standard metrics in their particular context, or to explore how the IRMA system can address other issues of interest (e.g., ensure supply chains connections from the mine to the purchasers).   

Mining companies interested in participating in the Launch Phase should contact Aimee Boulanger, IRMA Coordinator.

Independent, third-party assurance

IRMA is in the process of developing an independent third-party assurance system to provide a credible mechanism for verifying that the Standard for Responsible Mining has been met a mine site. During IRMA's Launch Phase we will be developing and testing auditor protocols, guidance documents, and training systems

The framework under consideration for IRMA's assurance system includes the following:

  • Certificates will be issued by third-party certification bodies whose auditors are trained by IRMA (or a third-party approved by IRMA). To determine whether or not a mine site has met the requirements set forth in the Standard for Responsible Mining, certification bodies will conduct audits of the mining operation. The audit will involve on-site visits, review of mine-related documentation, and interviews/consultations with the mining company employees, workers, union representatives, affected community members and other stakeholders.
  • Certificates will be issued for a certain period of time (not yet decided, but likely 3 to 5 years, with the possibility of mid-cycle reviews/audits). Following this period, a re-evaluation of the mine site will be conducted to see if certification should be renewed. During these subsequent certification periods, companies will be expected to make changes and upgrades as required by any updates to the Standard for Responsible Mining.
  • Certification bodies will be monitored and assessed by a separate accreditation body to ensure that they are carrying out certification in a competent manner. The accreditation body may carry out activities such as observing auditors, reviewing audit reports, interviewing stakeholders, etc., as part of its assessment; and will publish a summary of its review of the various IRMA certification bodies.
  • IRMA is designing its certification program to meet ISEAL Alliance’s Code of Good Practice for Assuring Compliance with Social and Environmental Standards. ISEAL supports and drives quality for the best-known and most successful sustainability standard systems.

The development of IRMA’s assurance system is being informed by other multi-stakeholder, voluntary certification schemes, such as Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council and others. IRMA is also incorporating learning from field testing of the draft Standard for Responsible Mining (read more about IRMA field testing here) and will incorporate the learning from any pilot projects undertaken during IRMA's Launch Phase.

Eventual recognition of different levels of performance

At the present time, there are two status levels envisaged for mine sites that may want to participate in the IRMA system: Candidate and Certified (these names are placeholders). As a mine's performance improves and its status level increases a company will enjoy added benefits, such as being able to make various claims about social and environmental performance; increased reputational benefits; opportunities for preferred purchasing status with downstream buyers; more favorable status with lenders and investors, etc.


Certified Status (RED)
IRMA certification will only occur for mine sites that demonstrate that they are leaders in best practices, as defined in the IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining. Certified mines sites will be expected to meet all of the requirements of the IRMA Standard, however, if minor non-conformances with a certain level of requirements are found during an audit, mine sites will be allowed a limited amount of time to correct the problem(s). Upon certification, these mine sites will be granted a set of benefits including use of the IRMA logo and ability to make certain claims regarding its social and environmental performance.

Candidate Status (ORANGE)
In addition to the certification process for mines that meet the Standard, IRMA leaders are currently considering a secondary “candidate” (or similar) status for mine sites that meet a core set of threshold requirements. Candidate status could provide a benchmarking tool for mine sites focused on improving their performance (see also the scoring tool in the continuing improvement section below), and/or provide candidate mines with a means to demonstrate that while they have not yet achieved best practice across all issues and chapters of the IRMA Standard, they have demonstrated that they have gone beyond standard industry practice in several key areas. Details regarding the core requirements that must be met, what claims candidates will be allowed to make and other components of candidate status (including whether or not “candidate” is the appropriate term) are under development.

Scoring Tool for Use by Any Mine Site (GREEN)
IRMA leaders also want to encourage all interested companies to use the IRMA Standard, even if they are not at the point where they are ready to apply for candidate status or certification. Consequently, IRMA is in the process of developing a scoring tool, which will allow any mine site to self-assess or be audited to determine how it measures up against one or more chapters of the IRMA Standard at a specific point in time. By identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses, these mines can focus resources on areas important to stakeholders, and over time, re-assess their performance or be audited again to demonstrate any improvements that have been made in social and/or environmental performance. 

Recognizing Innovation
IRMA recognizes that innovation, which could be anything from the development and use of more efficient equipment to new ways of working collaboratively with stakeholders, feeds into the continuing evolution of best practices. IRMA looks for ways to incentivize mine sites that reach beyond the current standards and will award recognition of such innovation, regardless of whether a mine has met all of the IRMA requirements.

In responding to the urgent challenges of sustainable development, IndustriALL Global Union, as the world’s biggest global union, is proud to be associated with IRMA in a joint effort to develop a credible multi-stakeholder certification and assurance reporting system for the mining industry.

– Kemal Ozkan, Assistant General Secretary, IndustriALL Global Union


Fundamentals of the IRMA Certification System

•  IRMA will certify individual mine sites, not mining companies.

•  IRMA will certify industrial-scale mines, located anywhere on the globe.

•  IRMA certification will not apply to artisanal mines, but IRMA will seek to collaborate with programs that do certify those operations.

•  IRMA will provide certification for mines extracting any mineral or metal, but will not certify sites extracting oil, gas, uranium and other energy fuels.

•  IRMA will collaborate with other certification initiatives for the extractives sector to provide complete solutions for certification, traceability and labeling.

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