The new bridging document is applicable to metalliferous minerals, coal, diamonds, oil sands and more. Courtesy of USGS via Unsplash.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recently announced that key international standards used in mineral reporting would be harmonized in order to make reporting and classifying minerals more straightforward. The updated Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) template to the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) bridging document released on April 23, along with a Guidance Note on how to use the bridging document, has integrated the original CRIRSCO template and the UNFC standards to form a more accessible and well-rounded guide to reporting and classifying mineral resources and reserves.   

The CRIRSCO template is the global standard for financial reporting of publicly listed mining companies. It is used to inform investors or other stakeholders about exploration progress and results, as well as outline mineral resource and mineral reserve estimates for current mineral projects. The UNFC guidelines are a principles-based classification system used to determine the environmental, social, and economic feasibility of projects to develop mineral resources. The harmonization of these two standards aims to allow individuals in the mining industry to record mineral data with less confusion. 

“The release of the updated CRIRSCO template to UNFC bridging document is a testament to our commitment to enhancing transparency and consistency in mineral project reporting, said Dario Liguti, director of the sustainable energy division at UNECE, in an April 23 press release. 

Garth Kirkham, principal of Kirkham Geosystems, co-chair of CIM’s Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves Committee, and the chairperson for CRIRSCO, told CIM Magazine that it can be problematic to rely on inconsistent standards for mineral reporting, as this could result in reporting information that is inaccurate. 

While Kirkham pointed out that this new harmonization will not directly affect most Canadian mining companies since Canada does not use the UNFC code for public reporting of resources and reserves, he noted that this new bridging document is “useful if [Canadian companies] are dealing with international governments or European entities that must adhere to the UN’s rules or codes if they fall under the auspices of the EU [European Union] or UN regulatory framework.” 

Kirkham likened the new bridging document to a map that can be used so that mineral reporting codes from other countries can be directly compared to Canadas codes. “If a country or a [global mining] company in the European Union has to follow the UN classification schema, it is very difficult for them to report a Canadian asset in the same way,” he said. By using this document and performing a “straight-line comparison” between codes, this can alleviate some of the confusion for mining companies that are collecting and reporting data.  

CIM Representatives, along with CRIRSCO task group members, engaged in observatory and advisory roles with the UNECE for the last five years approximately before working on the updated guidelines by the task group. The group’s main goal was to locate similarities between the CRIRSCO and UNFC guidelines. Following this, the task group released a final draft of the new bridging document in July 2023. The finalized document, along with a guidance document on how to properly use the harmonized standards, was approved by the UNECE’s Expert Group on Resource Management during the recent 15th annual expert group meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, which took place from April 22 to 26, 2024.