Standard Development Process

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IRMA is in the process of developing its Standard for Responsible Mining. The first draft of the IRMA Standard was released in July 2014. The draft Standard has gone through one public comment period, and will continue to be revised based on a combination of stakeholder consultations, expert advice and learning from on-the-ground field tests. In 2016, the IRMA Steering Committee will decide whether or not the Standard for Responsible Mining meets its vision of a best-practice standard. After the Standard is finalized, IRMA will launch its certification system.

Standard Development Procedure

IRMA developed a draft IRMA Standard Development Procedure document that outlines the requirements and procedures to be followed by IRMA for the development, review, modification and approval of IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining. These procedures are designed to comply with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards (2010). The objective of these procedures is to ensure the credibility of IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining by incorporating the values of transparency, participation and fairness into the processes for their development, and through compliance with international best practice for standards development.

Stakeholder Feedback

IRMA is striving to follow an extensive ISEAL-compliant stakeholder feedback process, including webinars and workshops with interested stakeholders, to gather input and respond to stakeholder suggestions and concerns about the draft Standard for Responsible Mining. Interested stakeholders can view a timeline of stakeholder consultations on the draft Standard, or comment on the current draft (v.2.0) of the draft Standard.

Field Testing

The draft Standard is being field tested at specific mine sites to test how it works “on the ground” and how it reads to an independent auditor. The field tests involve simulated audits, where auditors hired by IRMA review company documentation, make first-hand observations at the mine sites, and conduct interviews with company representatives and other stakeholders, including workers and community members to determine where improvements might be made to the IRMA Standard. The auditors provide IRMA with feedback on whether the requirements in the draft Standard are clear and understandable to auditors, company representatives and stakeholders; if the requirements are achievable; and whether they requirements are auditable (i.e., is it possible for a company to provide an auditor with sufficient evidence to verify that a requirement has been met).

Information from all of the field tests is helping to inform revisions to the draft IRMA Standard, as well as the future design of IRMA's verification program.

IRMA Standard Fundamentals

  1. The IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining aims to define high-threshold (‘best practice’) performance requirements that must be achieved before a site can be associated with any IRMA endorsement or claim. As 'best practices' evolve, the IRMA Standard will be updated to reflect those practices. The aspirations for future standards are to be documented as part of the IRMA standard development process, and IRMA will look for ways to incentivize and reward companies to reach beyond the current standards.
  2. The IRMA Standard and certification system is applicable to industrial-scale mines of any metal or minerals, with the explicit exception of energy sources (e.g., coal, uranium, oil and gas).
  3. The IRMA Standard is not intended to apply to artisanal-scale mining operations.
  4. Requirements in the IRMA standard cover different phases of the ‘mine life-cycle’ from development through to closure and long term monitoring.
  5. It is recognized that it will sometimes be impossible for a site to comply retrospectively with requirements that needed to be implemented at earlier phases, if they are assessed at sites at later phases. IRMA expects to develop guidance to permit late assessment, while ensuring that this does not result in a loophole that rewards non-compliance with early-phase requirements.
  6. IRMA’s preferred option is a single standard that is applicable to all industrial-scale mines. But if this does not prove possible, IRMA standards may have a structure with a generic element applicable to all kinds of mine sites and a number of more specific modules applicable to specified types of mine that are unique in one or more key ways.