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Earthworks is part of a multistakeholder group working to develop the world’s first certification system for more responsible mining. Today, the group releases the first draft of the standards for public comment. Here’s a message from the committee about these groundbreaking standards:

Today the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) releases a new draft Standard for Responsible Mining in an effort to develop a global set of best practices for more responsible mining. Our goal is to launch a certification scheme in late 2015 based on independent, third-party verification of compliance around social and environmental performance at industrial-scale mine sites. To make the most effective Standard possible, we need your feedback.

The Standard for Responsible Mining seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mining what has been done with certification schemes in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. It is the result of eight years of collaboration between mining companies, organized labor, NGOs, impacted communities and downstream users (those who purchase materials from mines to produce other products) who have historically been at odds.

Here are important facts about the Standard for Responsible Mining:

  • This is the first effort at a set of practices designed by representatives from multiple sectors and aimed at multiple industrial-scale commodities ranging from building materials and automobile parts to jewelry and electronics.
  • The Standard for Responsible Mining will cover practices at specific mine sites, not mining companies overall (although some Standard requirements will be at the company level).
  • The Standard for Responsible Mining will not certify energy fuels (e.g., uranium, coal, oil or gas).
  • The Standard for Responsible Mining will include elements such as consideration of ecologically and culturally significant areas with regard to the location of the mine; reducing environmental impacts, such as habitat loss and pollution; health and safety provisions for workers; free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples; and transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments.
  • The Standard for Responsible Mining will not cover artisanal small-scale mines but seeks to collaborate with similar certification programs covering those sites.
  • The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance aspires to be fully compliant with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for standard-setting. We are following a diverse public engagement process with that goal as our guide.

Between now and 22 October 2014, we invite you to submit your feedback to the draft Standard for Responsible Mining. We are accepting comments through this online survey or you may email your comments to info@responsiblemining.net. We also encourage you to also share this draft with your colleagues and others you think may be interested and let them know of our desire to hear their feedback. Both the Standard for Responsible Mining and the online survey can also be accessed in Spanish language versions through our website.

After the 22 October deadline, we will make revisions to the draft standard and release a second draft for an additional comment period before releasing the final Standard. Background on the process that led to this draft, as well as on the certification program plans and more can be found on our website.

If you haven’t already signed up for the IRMA electronic newsletter, please do so here. We will be sending updates via the newsletter as we get feedback on the draft Standard. Thank you!