icmm covid-19
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The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and its 27 mining and metals member companies proactively use mining as a catalyst for change by improving the lives of people in mining host communities.

Now, during this unprecedented global crisis, the ICMM and its members are supporting local response efforts, working with community members and organisations in often remote locations to identify and help meet specific needs, Dr NICKY BLACK, director of the Social and Economic Development Programme tells CHANTELLE KOTZE.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 6, 2020
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Led by Black, the ICMM’s social and economic development programme aims to strengthen social and economic development impacts including community engagement, human rights, as well as broader benefits that mining can deliver.

Black is working alongside other members of the ICMM team to support company members as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

In so doing, the ICMM has regularly convened its company and association members virtually to share resources and information to help the industry navigate the most effective support possible. This response has been focused around two main themes:

1) How companies are managing an emergency response to the health risks posed to their employees and communities, and  providing immediate assistance to local communities impacted by the virus.

2) The groundwork required for longer-term economic recovery in communities and build resilience in host communities to be better prepared to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future crisis situations.

While many ICMM member companies have made much-needed donations toward the fight against COVID-19, Black highlights another key way in which mining companies have assisted.

They have also leveraged their knowledge and understanding of their host communities, their trust and strong rapport within these communities, as well as their thoughtful and respectful engagement within these communities to understand priorities and determine how best to deliver support.

“Previous investment in engagement, listening, and responding to community needs is providing invaluable for mining companies in this of crisis allowing them to engage and deliver impactful support to communities,” says Black.

Setting the responsible mining benchmark

The ICMM’s response to the pandemic has been informed by its Mining Principles –ICMM’s membership requirement – which defines the good practice environmental, social and governance requirements of member companies that, in turn, will support progress towards the global targets within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The ICMM released a revised, tougher set of Mining Principles earlier this year amid increasing global pressure on mining companies to mine responsibly and rising stakeholder expectations around environment, social and governance (ESG) best practice.

According to Black, the Mining Principles should be used as a benchmark for responsible mining by member companies, as it seeks to maximise the industry’s benefits to host communities, while minimising negative impacts to effectively manage issues of concern to society.

There are 10 Mining Principles, supported by 38 performance expectations which set out clear requirements on issues including biodiversity, gender, human rights due diligence, labour rights, local content, mine closure, pollution, resettlement and waste, to name a few. They apply to more than 650 of the ICMM members’ assets in over 50 countries.

Within the context of Black’s Social and Economic Development Programme, there are five key Mining Principles that guide responsible mining, namely:

  • Mining Principle 1: Ethical Business

Apply ethical business practices and sound systems of corporate governance and transparency to support sustainable development.

  • Mining Principle 3: Human Rights

Respect human rights and the interests, cultures, customs and values of employees and communities affected by our activities.

  • Mining Principle 4: Risk Management

Implement effective risk-management strategies and systems based on sound science, and which account for stakeholder perceptions of risk.

  • Mining Principle 9: Social performance

Pursue continual improvement in social performance and contribute to the social, economic and institutional development of host countries and communities.

  • Mining Principle 10: Stakeholder Engagement

Proactively engage key stakeholders on sustainable development challenges and opportunities in an open and transparent manner, effectively report and independently verify progress and performance.

These Mining Principles build on the values of members while also define good practice ESG governance requirements by member companies.

Moreover, the ICMM’s work as an organisation, as well as its Mining Principles are aligned to and supports progress towards the global targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to guide global development and address some of the most pressing global challenged to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

“The SDGs have created a common framework for us to align our organisation and our work programmes with, to effectively progress the mining industry’s contribution to sustainable development,” says Black.

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