The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has published a series of equivalency guides, comparing its Mining Principles requirements with other mining standards across the industry.

The equivalency guides cover the requirements from 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, the Responsible Mineral Initiative’s Risk Readiness Assessment and the Copper Mark. The equivalency guides cover standards which broadly cover environmental, social and governance issues, are validated by third parties and are implemented by at least one ICMM member. With the help of each of these organizations, ICMM developed the benchmarks with efficiency, transparency and simplification in mind.

“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,” ICMM COO Aidan Davy said. “This equivalency benchmarking exercise 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.”

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According to ICMM, these benchmarks will allow companies to see how different standards cover certain issues and themes and directly view their differences and similarities, ultimately making standards and their validation processes more transparent. By having a clear comparative guide, companies will be able to self-assess and validate standards compliance more efficiently, particularly if they are assessing multiple standards at a time.

For example, RGMP has an equivalent principle to ICMM’s Mining Principle 1.1 (which states “establish systems to maintain compliance with applicable law” in operating countries), while TSM does not. Both the RGMP and TSM standards, however, meet ICMM’s Mining Principle 5: to “pursue continual improvement in health and safety performance with the ultimate goal of zero harm.”

Because standards are created by distinct organizations with different memberships and are sometimes geographic- and commodity-specific, standards can also differ because they emphasize particular challenges and issues. The Copper Mark and RGMPs, for example, will address similar issues, but not identical ones.

The ICMM is currently developing more guides which it expects to publish in 2021 and will update its existing equivalency guides whenever standards are amended. The equivalency benchmarks can be found online.