In late 2017 the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) will launch an independently verifiable responsible mining assurance system, offering mines an opportunity to apply for recognition of achievement in environmental and social responsibility. The new certification scheme will also give purchasers a chance to connect with leading mines through their supply chains. Civil society stakeholders — workers, local communities and nonprofit nongovernment organizations — will have increased access to information and communication with mines willing to lead.

In late 2017, IRMA will offer Launch Phase certification and other benchmarking. Interested mines will be invited to apply to be among the first assessed. During this time IRMA will be evaluating its systems, addressing challenges and gaps, seeking to improve in real time, and then expand in 2018 and beyond. 

In preparation for this Launch Phase, IRMA is working with leading purchasers to review supply chains and remove barriers to efficiently connect with mine sites participating in the IRMA program. IRMA is also developing a verification and auditor training program to support the first certifications and other benchmarking against the Standard for Responsible Mining.

As part of finalizing the Standard for Responsible Mining IRMA is seeking public comment on a new draft chapter to be added to the standard. Released in July 2017, IRMA will be accepting comments on its Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining chapter until 8 September 2017. For more information, go to the IRMA Standard Draft v.2.0 page.

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 can provide important employment and financial opportunity for host communities. Mining is also a complex and intensive process that causes environmental and social change no matter where it occurs. Mining may impact the physical environment (e.g., loss of habitat, contamination of water) and local communities’ social and economic lives (e.g., displacement of livelihoods, cultural impacts). However, most negative social and environmental impacts are avoidable if companies operate according to leading standards. 

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) seeks to recognize mine sites practicing environmental and social responsibility and create further value and incentive for this effort. IRMA envisions a world where the mining industry respects the human rights and aspirations of affected communities, provides safe, healthy and supportive workplaces, minimizes harm to the environment, and leaves positive legacies. 

The Purpose of IRMA

IRMA’s purpose is to demonstrate value for such a world through a Standard that describes social and environmental performance, and a system that delivers recognition for achievement of benchmarks against that Standard. IRMA links investors and private sector purchasers of mined material with mines seeking to lead. IRMA’s system offers accountability and credibility through multi-stakeholder governance and independent third-party verification.

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.

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IRMA Fundamentals

  • The IRMA Standard is targeted at industrial-scale mines.
  • 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 initiatives for responsible small-scale and artisanal mining.
  • IRMA collaborates with other sustainability standards initiatives for the extractives sector to provide complete solutions for certification, traceability and labeling.
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