Standard Development Process

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The IRMA Standard for Responsible Mining was developed through a process that included public comment periods on two drafts of the standard (2014 and 2016), expert input (through working groups and review sessions) and learning from on-the-ground field tests. Interested stakeholders are invited to view a more detailed timeline of stakeholder consultations on the draft Standard.

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.

Early Drafts of the IRMA Standard

As part of its Standard development process IRMA has endeavored 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. IRMA has kept records of its early draft Standards and stakeholder consultations on these drafts, and has also responded to all comments submitted during public comment periods.

Interested stakeholders can access early drafts of the IRMA Standard, and view IRMA's responses to stakeholder comments by visiting the following pages:

Field Testing of the Draft IRMA Standard

The draft Standard was 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 involved simulated audits, where auditors hired by IRMA reviewed company documentation, made first-hand observations at the mine sites, and conducted 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 provided IRMA with feedback on whether the requirements in the draft Standard were clear and understandable, if the requirements seemed achievable, and whether the requirements were auditable (i.e., it would be possible for a company to provide an auditor with sufficient evidence to verify that a requirement had been met).

Input from field tests was used to inform revisions to the draft IRMA Standard as well as the 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.