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We work to reduce the ecological and human footprint of mining. One way we do that is to promote alternatives to mining. We supports sustainable materials use in the form of increased efficiency, recycling, and repurposing—tapping existing supplies of minerals, and boosting recycling rates.

But we also believe that mining can—and must—be practiced in more responsible ways. Better mining is both technically and economically feasible.

Ideally, better mining practices—both environmental and human rights-related—would be legally mandated and uniformly applied around the world.

Because they aren’t, we work towards voluntary improvements by mining companies—even as we continue to seek enforceable, regulatory options where possible.

Meaningful voluntary improvements must include the following…

Eliminate worst practices: 

Several mining companies continue to use archaic and destructive practices that others have rejected—such as dumping contaminated waste directly into rivers and off coastal waters, or mining in protected natural reserves, or using violent security forces or having unsafe working conditions.

Implement best practices: 

The extensive impacts from mining—even in cases where companies are meeting legally specified guidelines – indicates that mining companies are simply not doing enough to minimize the negative footprint of their operations. Mining companies must do better—for example, by fully funding closure and clean-up of operations after mining ceases, and retraining workers who lose employment after mine closure.

Transparent, independent verification: 

It isn’t sufficient for companies to claim they are meeting best practices—there needs to be independent, third-party verification that they are indeed complying with standards.

Voluntary Certification Efforts

As part of our efforts to implement better mining practices, we monitor and participates in voluntary certification efforts that are emerging to fill regulatory shortfalls.

One such effort is the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is a voluntary, multi-sector collaboration of industry, retail, labor and civil society groups to set and independently verify best practices standards for mining companies.  We have also worked with allies from labor unions and other NGOs to expose industry-controlled weak certification systems such as the Responsible Jewelry Council.

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