IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining (Draft 2.0)
Chapter 3.8 Biodiversity Outside Officially Protected Areas

Background

Biological diversity - or biodiversity - describes the variety of life on Earth. It refers to the wide variety of ecosystems and living organisms: animals, plants, their habitats and their genes. Biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services essential for human well-being. It provides for food security, human health, clean air and water; it contributes to local livelihoods, and economic development, and is essential for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, including poverty reduction. In addition it is a central component of many belief systems, worldviews and identities. Despite its fundamental importance, biodiversity continues to be lost.[1]

In some situations biodiversity is formally protected and this protection takes precedence over mining as described in Chapter 3.7 on Protected Areas. However, in many areas of the world an adequate system of protected areas has yet to be established. Biodiversity is also of value outside of formally protected areas.

If society is to benefit from mining, while the loss of biodiversity is to be halted, biodiversity losses where mining takes place need to be offset by gains elsewhere. This chapter puts forward a framework designed to ensure that biodiversity losses are avoided or minimized wherever possible, but that, where they occur, they are mitigated through restoration practices and compensated for by verified gains in other locations through the implementation of offset initiatives.

Objectives/Intent of this Chapter

To avoid contributing to the global loss of biodiversity.

Scope of Application

Chapter Relevance:  This chapter will not be applicable if no known risks to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including risks related to potential knowledge gaps, are identified through the Biodiversity Impact Assessment screening process.

New vs. Existing Mines:  The requirements apply to both existing mines and new mines. The requirements are drafted with the intent that the overall impact of the mine on biodiversity will be considered across the whole period of the mine’s life. If an existing mine applies for certification, the assessment of its impact on biodiversity would include consideration of past impacts to the extent possible. These impacts would then need to be taken into account in its plan to demonstrate that it is ‘biodiversity neutral or positive’ over its whole life.  This approach does not prevent existing mines applying for IRMA certification late in their project life, but ensures that doing so does not allow them to avoid responsibilities that would have been applicable had they applied for IRMA certification at an earlier stage.

NOTES TO READERS ON MAJOR CHANGES TO THIS CHAPTER

  • Removed corporate level requirements.
  • Requirements related to Wetlands have been moved from the Reclamation and Closure chapter (now 4.2) to this chapter. The main points are that wetlands are to be avoided if possible; and if not possible that they be mitigated on a “no net loss” basis. This is covered in 3.8.2.1.a and 3.8.2.1.c. The previous Chapter 4.1 (now 4.2) also required a wetlands functional assessment, but the intent of that was to act as a means to demonstrate that the no net loss had been achieved. It is not a specific requirement here, but we will add to Guidance that a wetlands functional assessment is a means to demonstrate that no net loss can be achieved.
  • Minor changes include that biodiversity management planning be carried out by competent professionals (as per IFC); and some requirements have been revised for clarity purposes.
  • 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.
     

Biodiversity Outside Officially Protected Areas Requirements

3.8.1.  Biodiversity Impact Assessment

3.8.1.1.  The operating company shall carry out and make publicly available an assessment of the past and potential future impacts of its mining-related activities on biodiversity.[2]

3.8.1.2.  The assessment shall include consultation with stakeholders shall include explicit identification and consideration of:

a. Direct, indirect and cumulative effects of the proposed mining-related activities on biodiversity, including consideration of positive and negative impacts, and actual and potential impacts associated with the project from the exploration phase onwards.

b. Past and potential future impacts on any protected areas, that have not been assessed under the requirements specified in 3.7.3.

c. Past and potential future impacts on High Conservation Values 1 - 3 (HCV 1 - 3), including fish and wildlife, wetlands, and species listed as threatened or endangered;

d. Options to restore or offset past impacts from mining-related activities; and

e. Options to avoid, minimize, restore or offset the potential future impacts.

3.8.2.  Biodiversity Management Plan

3.8.2.1.  The operating company shall develop, in consultation with stakeholders, a biodiversity management plan or equivalent which:

a. Follows the mitigation hierarchy of avoiding, minimizing, restoring and/or offsetting potential future impacts on biodiversity, prioritizing the avoidance of existing protected areas, wetlands and areas containing or impacting on HCVs 1 – 3;

b. Describes the specific objectives, timelines, locations and activities that it shall implement to minimize, restore and/or offset any past or potential future negative impacts on biodiversity;

c. Demonstrates that impacted wetlands will be replaced on a “no net loss” basis; and

d. Demonstrates that the net impact of the operating company’s mining-related activities on biodiversity will be neutral or positive over the lifetime of the project.[3]

3.8.2.2.  Biodiversity management planning shall be carried out and documented by competent professionals using best practice procedures to:

a. Identify key biodiversity indicators sufficient to monitor the impact of the operating company’s activities over time, and to demonstrate that the overall net impact is neutral or positive;

b. Conduct surveys or baseline studies to establish the status of the key biodiversity indicators prior to the commencement of site-disturbing operations;

c. Develop mitigation measures to be implemented to minimize negative impacts on biodiversity associated with specific operations or processes,[4]  and to enhance, protect or restore biodiversity;[5]  and

d. Develop a process for updating the plan if new information relating to biodiversity becomes available during the implementation of the mining project.[6]

3.8.3.  Monitoring and Corrective Actions

3.8.3.1.  The operating company shall develop and implement a program to monitor the implementation of its biodiversity management plan and the specified key biodiversity indicators over time, and at sufficient detail and regularity to evaluate the operating company’s success in achieving its neutral or net positive objectives.

3.8.3.2.  The findings of the monitoring program shall be subject to professional review and shall be made publicly available.

3.8.3.3.  If monitoring shows that the operating company’s biodiversity objectives are not being achieved as expected, the operating company shall define and implement timely and effective corrective action in consultation with interested stakeholders.

3.8.4.  Allocation of Resources

3.8.4.1.  The operating company shall allocate sufficient personnel and other resources for full and effective implementation and monitoring of the biodiversity management plan.

Notes

This chapter adopts the terminology of ‘High Conservation Values’ (HCVs) as developed originally by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and subsequently incorporated into other leading international voluntary sustainability standards systems.  HCVs 1 to 3 are specified in this chapter as this chapter deals specifically with biodiversity, rather than with broader environmental or social values touched on by HCVs 4 – 6. The issues raised in HCVs 4 – 6 are addressed in different chapters of this standard.

A range of guidance documents on the HCV concept will be referenced in IRMA Guidance, as will examples of best practice guidance relevant to the assessment and management of biodiversity.

Cross Reference to Other Chapters

 Chapter

 Issues

1.1—Legal Compliance As per Chapter 1.1, if there are host country laws governing protection of biodiversity, 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.
2.8—Community and Stakeholder Engagement Engagement with stakeholders in the biodiversity assessment and management shall conform to the requirements in Chapter 2.8.

In particular, criterion 2.8.3 is important to ensure that stakeholders have the capacity to participate in assessments and the development of management plans.

Also, 2.8.4 ensures that communications and information are in culturally appropriate formats and languages that are accessible and understandable to affected stakeholders, and provided in a timely manner.
2.13—Grievance Mechanism and Access to Other Remedies Stakeholders who have complaints related to the operating company’s assessment, mitigation, monitoring or other issues related to biodiversity outside of protected areas will have access to raise these issues. As per Chapter 2.13, the operating company is required to have an operational-level grievance mechanism available to stakeholders, including procedures for filing complaints, and having complaints recorded, investigated and resolved in a timely manner.
3.7—Protected Areas The effects of the operating company’s activities on officially protected areas, including biodiversity in those areas, are addressed in Chapter 3.7.
4.1—Environmental and Social Impact Assessment The assessment of the mining project’s impacts on biodiversity as per 3.8.1 may be carried out as a stand-alone assessment or as part of an ESIA; or data collected for one may feed into the other.

 

Endnotes

1. Adopted from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

2. i.e., the impact of mining-related activities on biodiversity in relation to the mine site/project being considered for certification; not at all of the company’s sites.

3. ‘life time of the project’ includes past phases of the project (e.g., exploration, construction, etc.).

4. Impacts may be associated with specific operations or processes such as the planning, siting and construction of roads and other infrastructure; hunting, fishing, trapping and collecting of wild fauna or flora within and adjacent to the operating company’s areas of operation; the use of introduced species, etc.

5. Mitigation measure may include the identification of key areas for protection, measures to offset unavoidable negative impacts, or commitments for site restoration or reclamation at the end of the project’s operational life.

6. As with the initial development of the biodiversity management plan, any updates shall include consultation with stakeholders to determine how the plan should take account of the new information, and updates shall align with the general mitigation hierarchy specified in 3.8.2.1.

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