IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (Draft 2.0)
Chapter 2.9 Obtaining Community Support and Delivering Benefits

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Background

There is widespread acknowledgement from extractive industries that efforts spent on building respectful relationships, responding to community and indigenous peoples’ concerns, minimizing project-related impacts can be beneficial to both companies and affected communities.

Leading companies also recognize the need for delivering benefits to affected communities, and that benefits are best defined by the communities themselves. When communities’ needs and aspirations are not at the forefront of mining company investments, experience shows that efforts often fail to deliver long-lasting benefits. Increasingly, efforts are being made to ensure that community investments made by mining companies provide both immediate and ongoing benefits that last beyond the life of the mining operation.

In addition to providing tangible benefits to affected communities, there is a growing need for mining companies to obtain and maintain broad community support for their projects and operations.[1]  A high level of community support can provide reassurance to a company’s shareholders and investors, and steps taken by a company to earn community support can foster the development and maintenance of strong relationships with affected communities.

Objectives/Intent of this Chapter

To obtain and maintain credible broad support from affected communities; and produce tangible and equitable benefits to communities that are in alignment with their needs and aspirations and sustainable over the long term.

Scope of Application

Chapter Relevance:  Operating companies may provide evidence that this Chapter is not relevant if they can demonstrate that there are no communities that may be affected by their mining activities, or potential mine expansions.

New vs. Existing Mines:  The chapter applies to new mines and existing mines. With respect to obtaining broad community support, new mines are expected to demonstrate that they obtained it prior to the construction of a new mine while existing mines shall demonstrate that they have broad community support when they apply for certification. This approach recognizes that existing mines may not have had broad community support at the time they were constructed, but that through the building and maintenance of strong relationships with affected communities and stakeholders they have been able to earn this support over time.

NOTES TO READERS ON MAJOR CHANGES TO THIS CHAPTER:

  • Added language to 2.9.2.1 to clarify that not only does broad community support need to be obtained, but it must also be maintained. Revised 2.9.2.1 to require that existing mines demonstrate that they have earned broad community support by the time that apply for IRMA certification, rather than waiting for a significant change to the operation. IRMA is seeking stakeholder comment on criteria 2.9.2.
  • Removed requirements that addressed community health and safety.  Replaced Chapter 2.7 HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with a broader chapter on Community Health and Safety that and integrates the bulk of the HIV/AIDs etc. requirements.
  • 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.
     

Obtaining Community Support and Delivering Benefits Requirements

2.9.1.  Commitments to Affected Communities

2.9.1.1.  The operating company shall publicly commit to enhancing the health, social and economic wellbeing of affected communities, and developing a project only if it gains and maintains broad community support.

2.9.2.  Obtaining Community Support 

2.9.2.  Issue in Brief:
IRMA leaders have agreed that they do not want IRMA to certify mining operations that do not have the support of the communities most affected by their operation. But IRMA also recognizes that at the present time there is no universally accepted means of measuring whether or not a company has obtained broad community support (BCS) for a project. While the International Finance Corporation does require that companies obtain broad community support for certain types of projects in order to qualify for loans, they do not have clear criteria for what constitutes BCS. Given the grey area, IRMA has attempted to come up with some criteria that may be applied, so that any independent, third-party auditor would make the same assessment as to whether or not a company applying for IRMA certification has obtained BCS.

We have also realized that the criteria for obtaining BCS may not be the same criteria for demonstrating that BCS is being maintained (e.g., it is not IRMA’s intent that communities carry out votes every few years as to whether or not they support the mining operation). But we have not yet developed a separate set of criteria or means of verification expectations related to what it means to maintain support.

We welcome stakeholder input on these issues.

2.9.2.1.  Prior to the construction of a new mine, the operating company shall demonstrate that it obtained broad community support from communities affected by the operation, and that this support has been maintained. For existing mines, the operating company shall demonstrate, at the time of application for certification, that the mine has earned and is maintaining broad community support.[2]

2.9.2.2. Broad community support shall be determined through local democratic processes or governance mechanisms, or by another process or method agreed to by the company and an affected community.

2.9.2.3.  Evidence of broad community support shall only be considered credible if the process or method used to demonstrate support:

a. Occurred after the operating company carried out consultations with relevant stakeholders regarding potential impacts and benefits of the proposed operation;
b. Was transparent;
c. Was free from coercion or manipulation; and
d. Included the opportunity for meaningful input by all potentially affected community members, including women, vulnerable and marginalized members, prior to any decision or resolution

2.9.3.  Planning Community Development and Benefits

2.9.3.1.  The operating company, in collaboration with affected communities and other relevant stakeholders (including local government), shall contribute to the development of a participatory community development planning process to guide a company’s contributions to community development and benefits in affected communities.

2.9.3.2.  The planning process shall be designed to ensure local participation, social inclusion (including women and men, and vulnerable and traditionally marginalized community members), good governance and transparency.

2.9.3.3.  If requested by the community and not provided by the appropriate public authorities, the operating company shall provide funding for mutually agreed upon experts to aid in the participatory process.

2.9.3.4.  The planning process and any outcomes or decisions shall be documented and signed by those involved in the process.

2.9.3.5.  Efforts shall be made to develop mechanisms that can be self-sustaining after mine closure, and to develop community capacity to oversee and sustain any projects or initiatives agreed upon through negotiations.

2.9.3.6.  In collaboration with the community, the operating company shall periodically monitor any mechanisms developed to deliver benefits, based on agreed upon indicators, and evaluate if changes need to be made to community development and benefit initiatives.

Cross References to Other Chapters

 Chapter

 Issues

2.9—Community and Stakeholder Engagement See Chapter 2.8.  Community and Stakeholder Engagement, for requirements relating to engagement and communication with stakeholders. In particular, criterion 2.8.3 is important to ensure that stakeholders have the capacity to fully understand their rights and collaborate effectively in community planning processes. Also, 2.8.4 ensures that communications and information are in formats and languages that are accessible and understandable to affected communities and stakeholders, and provided in a timely, culturally appropriate manner.
2.10—Free, Prior and Informed Consent Chapter 2.10 is relevant for mining projects that may affect communities of indigenous peoples. Rather than obtaining broad community support as per this chapter, when there are indigenous peoples whose land, resources, cultural heritage or rights may be impacted by mining activities, operating companies must adhere to the requirements of Chapter 2.10. 
 

Endnotes

1. For example, ICMM members recognize that: "Successful mining and metals projects require the support of a range of interested and affected parties. This includes both the formal legal and regulatory approvals granted by governments and the broad support of a company’s host communities." (ICMM. 2013. Indigenous Peoples and Mining. Position Statement. p. 3), and ICMM materials mention to the need to "gain and maintain the broad community support of the communities on which operations are located." (ICMM. 2008. Sustainable Development Framework: Assurance Procedure. p. 18).

2. If the affected community is an indigenous peoples’ community, the operating company is required to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of that community (as per Chapter 2.10). If the company obtains FPIC, they will have met this requirement also. A company may need to obtain FPIC from indigenous peoples and also demonstrate that it has broad community support for the same project, if there is a community of non-indigenous peoples also affected by the mine.

 

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