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IRMA releases precedent-setting international standard for responsible mining

23 July, 2014IndustriALL and its North American affiliate United Steelworkers (USW) are marking the 22 July release of a draft Standard for Responsible Mining, by IRMA, a multi-stakeholder initiative to which both organizations are committed.

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) includes stakeholders from the mining industry, trade unions, nongovernmental organizations, affected communities and businesses. IndustriALL and the USW serve on the IRMA steering committee. 

The proposed Standard for Responsible Mining is a set of principles to improve social and environmental performance that seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification schemes in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. 

IRMA Steering Committee member Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL’s Director for the mining industry stated, 

The success of IRMA is a key priority for IndustriALL’s mining sectoral activities. IRMA will continue to build multi-stakeholder dialogue charged with achieving responsible mining. IRMA is the first international certification procedure to include proper worker participation and therefore will be the first to award credible certifications on mines with high social and environmental performance.

When a certification body is set up and run by the companies themselves it is not surprising when irresponsible employers that abuse workers and the environment are awarded certificates of good practice.

"As Canada's mining union, we are proud of our contributions and that of IndustriALL Global Union, a global union federation to which we are affiliated," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

"Each of us wants a future where mining companies make a positive contribution to local communities and minimize any impact on land and water, while serving the needs of modern society," said Jon Samuel, Group Head of Government and Social Affairs at international mining company Anglo American. "Though we don't always see eye to eye on every issue, IRMA has developed a draft set of leading edge practices and a new definition of more responsible mining."

After the Oct. 22 comment deadline, revisions will be made to the draft Standard for Responsible Mining and a second draft will be released for an additional comment period before the final standard is prepared. The goal is to develop a certification scheme based on independent third-party verification and in compliance with ISEAL Alliance's Code of Good Practice for standard setting.