In April 2016 IRMA released a revised draft Standard for Responsible Mining for public review and comment. Dozens of stakeholders interested in responsible mining responded with suggestions on how to improve the Standard.

IRMA will be revising the draft Standard for Responsible Mining in the coming months. To keep abreast of IRMA's progress, sign up for our e-newsletter.

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.

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.

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.

The IRMA Mission

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

IRMA Background

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; and it is developing a system of independent, third-party verification to enable mine sites to credibly demonstrate that they are operating in a manner that is consistent with healthy communities and environments, and that leaves positive long-term legacies.

IRMA is planning to beta test its certification system in 2017. Mine sites participating in the beta test phase of IRMA's development will be eligible for certification. Learn more about IRMA's responsible mining certification

Impacts of Mining

Modern societies rely on mining, minerals and metals to function. Nearly everything in the built environment – from buildings to roads to computers and trains – contains materials extracted from the Earth’s surface.

Mining is a complex and intensive process that causes environmental and social change no matter where it occurs. Mining-related disruptions impact the physical environment (through, for instance, loss of habitat and contamination of surface and ground waters) and local communities (through, for instance, displacement of livelihoods and cultural impacts).

Responsible Mining

Although some degree of disturbance is inevitable even in the best-managed mines, and in some cases ‘no mining’ may be the best option, we believe that most negative social and environmental impacts are avoidable if companies operate according to the best possible standards. Elements of such responsible mining practices include:

Mine location. Mine owners and operators need to carefully weigh land and resource use options and preserve ecologically and culturally significant areas.
Environmental management. Where possible, mining operators need to reduce the environmental impact from habitat loss and pollution during all stages of mine development.

Workers and affected communities. This includes issues related to the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples for mining, health and safety provisions, and sharing benefits more broadly.

Corporate governance. Mine operators need to ensure transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments and report on progress made toward implementing responsible practices.

The IRMA Standard

The Standard for Responsible Mining is an integral piece of the IRMA certification system. It outlines a set of best-practice requirements that were developed and are being revised through multi-stakeholder processes. IRMA encourages mining companies to adhere to these responsible mining practices, and to demonstrate compliance by participating in IRMA's independently verifiable responsible mining assurance system.

A first draft of the Standard was released for public comment in July 2014. A second draft of the Standard for Responsible Mining was released in April 2016. The IRMA Secretariat is now working on revisions to the Standard based on stakeholder input.

View the current draft IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (v.2.0, April, 2016)

View information about the first draft IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (v.1.0, July, 2014), including IRMA's responses to comments on that draft.