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A Review of the International Finance Corporation’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines for Mining

From the Introduction:

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, has recently released a draft set of guidelines for managing the environmental and public health impacts of its controversial large-scale mining projects.

The guidelines (“Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines for Mining” [EHS Guidelines]) are marked by significant gaps and omissions, including the failure to specify the performance levels or quantitative measures necessary to protect local communities and environments impacted by these projects. In some cases the guidelines do not even meet the mining industry's existing “best practice” standards.

When it adopted its Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability in 2006, the IFC stated that the subsequent EHS Guidelines would provide the details missing from the new policy and performance standards. The draft mining guidelines, however, fail to compensate for the lack of specificity of the Performance Standards, which consist of neither firm standards nor measurable criteria for performance.

The weaknesses of the mining guidelines, and the IFC's refusal to report meaningfully on whether its mining investments actually reduce poverty, are addressed in detail in the full publication.