The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has published a series of equivalency benchmarks that compare the requirements of ICMM’s Mining Principles with the World Gold Council’s Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMPs), the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) program, the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), the Responsible Mineral Initiative’s Risk Readiness Assessment (RRA) and the Copper Mark.
Recognising stakeholder concerns around responsible production, and the recent proliferation of sustainability standards, ICMM has undertaken this exercise alongside each standard owner with three key aims:
Simplification – to support investors, customers, and other stakeholders in their understanding of how these standards address a range of sustainability concerns, and the extent to which there are similarities and differences between them.
Efficiency – to make self-assessment and/or 3rd party validation processes more efficient for mining companies, including situations where validation is conducted for two or more standards at the same time.
Transparency – to promote transparency around mining and metals sector standards and validation processes.
The benchmarks enable all stakeholders to understand the coverage of different schemes in terms of the issues of concern to them, and any important points of difference or divergence.
While each of these standards share the objectives of improving environmental, social and governance practices at the operational level, there are points of difference which must be carefully assessed on a case by case basis.
Differences occur for several reasons including that ICMM and other standard owners are distinct organisations with different memberships, mandates, and governance structures.
Standards that are geography or commodity specific are likely to emphasise particular environmental, social or governance challenges unique to that commodity or geography and the drivers behind how and why each standard was developed are likely to be similar, but not the same.
To measure the degree to which these standards may vary, ICMM has worked with each standard owner to robustly evaluate whether each individual requirement exceeds, meets, partially meets, or does not meet those of another standard.
Aidan Davy, COO of ICMM, says:
“The recent proliferation of sustainability standards reflects the justifiable demand from investors, consumers, and other stakeholders for evidence that critically important metals and minerals are being produced responsibly.
“This was a key consideration when we developed ICMM’s enhanced membership requirements, our Mining Principles, and from the outset we committed to understanding the degree of alignment with other responsible sourcing standards.
“This equivalency benchmarking work is a critical step in helping to avoid the duplication of work for those companies implementing one or more of these standards at once, and in parallel promotes transparency and good practice in the sector.
“This has been a collaborative process, so I want to thank the other standard owners for their support and input at each stage of the exercise.”
Terry Heymann, CFO, World Gold Council, says:
“The Responsible Gold Mining Principles have been designed to set out a clear framework as to what constitutes responsible practices for gold mining.
“We recognise that there are a number of standards that support the broader mining industry and are pleased to have worked with the ICMM to develop this equivalency table, which shows a high degree of alignment.
“This should support efficient implementation and assurance for companies implementing both approaches. Moreover, it should also benefit investors, consumers and other stakeholders who are, quite rightly, increasingly seeking to understand how miners perform in regard to recognised responsible mining standards.”
Pierre Gratton, the Mining Association of Canada, says:
“Now more than ever before, consumers and businesses are rightly focusing on ensuring the materials they are purchasing have been sourced responsibly and the need for standards, specifically those highlighting measurable performance data and commitment to ESG, have never been more important.
“With the variety and number of standards specific to the mining industry, including the Mining Association of Canada’s TSM initiative, it is clear our sector is taking note of this expectation and is being proactive in providing assurance of sustainable practices while also working to minimise the burden on miners by aligning and developing equivalencies amongst the standards themselves.
“We are confident that when combined with MAC’s new TSM Responsible Sourcing Alignment Supplement, that brings the requirements of multiple standards including ICMM’s together into a single reporting and assurance process, this equivalency benchmark will provide important and transparent information on how the mining industry encourages and measures responsible mining practices.”
Marieke van der Mijn, Director of Impacts and Partnerships, Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, says:
“ASI welcomes ICMM’s recognition of the ASI Performance Standard. Harmonization with relevant external Standards and Schemes is an important part of ASI’s collaboration activities in order to reduce unnecessary duplication and inform our learning and continual improvement.
“We look forward to continuing working with ICMM on equivalency as our standards evolve over time.’
Michèle Brülhart, Executive Director of the Copper Mark, says:
“We welcome ICMM’s work on equivalency and the important step it represents for the alignment of programmes with the shared goal of ensuring responsible mineral production practices.
“The Copper Mark already recognizes ICMM’s Performance Expectations in our Assurance Process and we are encouraged to see this recognition being extended to the Risk Readiness Assessment now.
“The publication of the equivalency benchmarking results provide helpful information to identify efficiencies in our respective assurance processes but also to further the understanding of responsible mining standards across different stakeholder groups.”
Leah Butler, Vice President, Responsible Minerals Initiative, says:
“The Responsible Minerals Initiative is pleased to be part of these efforts to benchmark responsible production and sourcing standards applicable to the mining industry.
“We support initiatives that increase awareness of expectations across standards and encourage alignment over time. This drives efficiencies in the industry’s ability to achieve goals shared by the RMI and ICMM.
This has been a collaborative process between ICMM and each of the standard owners who have been engaged at each stage of the process. The benchmarks published here have been agreed and/or accepted by each standard owner.
The list of standards being benchmarked against ICMM’s Mining Principles is not finite, with other relevant standards being assessed in time. You can view each equivalency benchmark here.