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In a bid to advance the sustainability performance of the mining sector, the International Council on Mining and Metals, or ICMM, has made it a requirement that all ICMM members commit to implement the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Speaking at the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, Tom Butler, ICMM’s chief executive announced ICMM’s new performance expectations that will define what mining with principles looks like in practice, by setting a benchmark for the industry’s environmental and social performance.

The performance expectations will apply to all ICMM’s company members who manage almost 650 assets in over 50 countries, covering nearly half of the world’s iron ore and copper production, and over a quarter of all mined commodities by value. Therefore, it will be the most far-reaching initiative to advance environmental and social performance in the mining industry.

The new performance expectations were developed with extensive input from NGOs, international organisations and academics. The initiative has CEO-level support within all ICMM company members, a point that Tom Butler expanded on in Geneva.

“ICMM’s Council of 27 CEOs have shown real leadership in being the first industry body to commit to implementing the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“Importantly, other companies will also be able to publicly commit to our performance expectations and I hope this will lead the broader industry to further improve its social and environmental performance,” says Butler.

Professor John Ruggie, Harvard Kennedy School, and the former UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights says that the ICMM has repeatedly set the pace in the evolution of sustainability requirements for its industry, now including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights; and as a CEO-led organisation it has the credibility and leverage to do so.

The performance expectations are the latest evolution of ICMM’s sustainability framework that set out a more comprehensive set of environmental and social requirements, including issues such as labour rights, resettlement, local content, gender, access to grievance mechanisms, mine closure, pollution and waste that will be validated at the asset level.

ICMM is currently developing guidance on how members will validate the performance expectations at the asset level including through independent third-party assessments.

The guidance is expected to be complete in the middle of 2019 and will be piloted during the second half of 2019 followed by full implementation across the membership.