IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (Draft 2.0)
Chapter 1.1 Legal Compliance


Compliance with applicable host country laws is one of the most basic principles of operating a mine, or any activity, in a given jurisdiction.  As an international best practice standard IRMA’s requirements may also contain provisions that will be more stringent or demanding than the minimum legal requirements specified at the national level in a particular country.

This chapter seeks to ensure that the IRMA Standard supports and complements compliance with international and national laws and regulations.  It is based on five precepts:

  • Compliance with host country laws and permits;
  • Compliance with the IRMA Standard and requirements;
  • Compliance with the most protective of host country or IRMA requirements;
  • Compliance with the host country law when there is a direct conflict with an IRMA requirement - and explanation and documentation of any conflict to ensure that the decision process and response are clear and available to interested parties; and
  • Maintenance of records - and public access to those records - sufficient to document and demonstrate compliance with host country requirements and the IRMA Standard.

Objectives/Intent of this Chapter

To support the application of the laws and regulations of the country in which mining takes place, or exceed host country laws in a manner consistent with best practice.

Scope of Application

Chapter Relevance:  This chapter is applicable to all mines applying for IRMA certification.


  • Created criteria headings to provide greater clarity
  • Removed general requirements related to compliance with international treaties and conventions because these instruments are generally between states and countries, not between government and companies or individuals. Where the intent expressed through an international law, convention or treaty, etc. is to be applied to companies applying for IRMA certification, it is expressly included in the relevant chapters (such as prohibition of child labor, other international labor rights, commitments to respect human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights, etc.).
  • Revised criteria on compliance with most protective requirements (1.1.2) to improve its clarity
  • Removed requirement to make non-compliance information automatically publicly accessible (e.g., on a website). But for transparency purposes, retained ability for stakeholders to request and receive this information, with the exception of confidential information.
  • The means of verification (MOV) have been removed from this version of the draft IRMA Standard. If you would prefer to review and comment on a version of the draft Standard that has the means of verification, you can download a pdf version of the Standard with MOV.

Legal Compliance Requirements

1.1.1.  Compliance with Host Country Laws  The operating company shall comply with all applicable host country laws in relation to the mining project.

1.1.2.  Compliance with Most Protective Requirements[1]  The operating company shall comply with whichever provides the greatest social and/or environmental protections of host country law or IRMA requirements, unless complying with the IRMA requirement would require the operating company to break the host country law.

1.1.3.  Response to Non-Compliance  If non-compliance with a host country law has taken place, the operating company shall be able to demonstrate that timely and effective action was taken to remedy the non-compliance and to prevent further non-compliances from recurring.

1.1.4.  Disclosure and Reporting of Non-Compliance  At minimum, the operating company shall disclose records relating to any legal and permit-related non-compliance to IRMA auditors, and shall disclose this information to stakeholders upon request. Records shall include those reasonably related to the non-compliance, including descriptions of non-compliance events and ongoing and final remedies.[2]

1.1.5.  Contractors and Subcontractors  The operating company shall maintain and enforce a policy to demonstrate that it take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with the IRMA Standard by its contractors and subcontractors. This policy shall include, but not be limited to, contractors and subcontractors while working on or traveling en route to the operating company mine site or associated facilities.

1.1.6.  Record-keeping  The operating company shall maintain records and documentation sufficient to authenticate and demonstrate compliance with host country requirements and the IRMA Standard.  Where the operating company claims that information or documentation is confidential business information, it shall provide in its files and to stakeholder requests a description of the information or materials that are being withheld as confidential and an explanation of the reasons for classifying the information as confidential.  If a part of a document is confidential, only that confidential part shall be redacted, allowing for the release of non-confidential information.


This chapter balances the importance of compliance with host country laws with the recognition that laws can greatly vary between countries and regions.  Therefore this chapter establishes minimum legal standards and applicability requirements for other IRMA chapters when comparing host country law with the requirements in the IRMA Standard. As a general rule, and particularly recognising that participation in IRMA is voluntary, this chapter prioritizes IRMA because IRMA seeks to raise the bar of mining practices globally - and not just codify existing practices (whether considered best or not).

The IRMA process is necessarily iterative. Certification bodies, certification applicants and certificate holders are encouraged to contact the IRMA Steering Committee where they find conflict between host country requirements and IRMA standards.  The Steering Committee seeks to advance and develop IRMA standards just as it seeks to advance and develop mining best practices and standards of the industry.

IRMA certification is based on the evidence available to and reviewed by a certification body. Certification does not guarantee that a certificate holder complies with all the legal obligations associated with a certified mining project and may not be used to suggest otherwise or as a defense to claims regarding legal violations.

IRMA is in the process of developing a Policy on Association that, when vetted and approved by the Steering Committee, will identify selected, essential international norms and requirements, the breach of which may be grounds for rejection of an operating company and/or its corporate parent from continued IRMA participation. The first draft of IRMA's Policy on Association is available for review. IRMA welcomes comments on this policy.

Cross References to Other Chapters



All IRMA Chapters As per Chapter 1.1, if there are host country laws that pertain specifically to the topics addressed in any IRMA chapter, the company is required to abide by those laws. If IRMA requirements are more stringent than host country law, the company is required to also meet the IRMA requirements, as long as complying with them would not require the operating company to break the host country law.
2.4  - Human Rights, Due Diligence and Compliance If a company’s legal non-compliance is human rights related, see IRMA Chapter 2.4 for IRMA expectations related to effective remedy.



1. Note:  For purposes of this section, more protective means the law or requirement that will prevent or mitigate the most negative impact to host state’s human health and environment and cause the least risk to the host state’s economic resources, such as by posing risks of injury to human health and the environment.

2. “Ongoing remedies” refers to situations where the operating company is still working on achieving compliance to the satisfaction of the regulatory government entities.