16 February, 2023The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an independent non-profit international organization which helps businesses and other organizations take responsibility for their impacts.
The release of its draft sector standard for mining for public comment is an important milestone. IndustriALL was involved in the development of the sector specific mining standard as part of the working group.
The draft sector standard for mining was released on 7 February, coinciding with the Investment in Africa Mining Indaba and the Alternative Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa. There was a workshop on the draft sector standard at the Alternative Mining Indaba, an important forum for collecting feedback on the standard’s contents to kickstart the public comment period, which ends 30 April.
“We welcome the release but are aware that the increasing number of reporting standards risk having an unintended consequence of fatigue reporting burden. To the extent that the reporting of impacts will be transparent and mitigation effective, it will require the involvement and participation of workers and communities, to whom mining companies are ultimately accountable to,”
says, Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director and OHS lead.
The draft standard is comprehensive with content topics covering the whole environmental, social and governance spectrum with workers’ issues ranging from tailings, closure and rehabilitation, employment practices, critical incident management, occupational health and safety, child labour, forced and modern slavery, freedom of association and collective bargaining, non-discrimination and equal opportunity and for communities’ issues such as rights of indigenous communities, security practices, local communities, water and sewages, waste, land and resource rights and artisanal and small-scale mining which is an issue also of interest to trade unions.
Although the GRI standard is an important addition to existing voluntary mining standards, it is not a performance standard that will require third party independent audits like the initiative for responsible mining and assurance (IRMA). This will require workers, trade unions and communities to step up and hold mining companies accountable, by using the GRI sector report for mining-by-mining companies and comparing against their actual reality, particularly at this critical moment of the demand for low carbon transition minerals required to mitigate climate change.
Glen Mpufane says,
“The mining standard is an additional resource to call out the greenwashing by mining companies. We urge our affiliates in the mining sector to get involved and comment on the exposure draft during the comment period that closes on 30 April which has an online comment form.”