The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), The Copper Mark and World Gold Council are collaboratively working to develop a cohesive, responsible mining standard.
The decision follows comments made by BHP chief executive Mike Henry at the IEA Summit on Critical Minerals and Clean Energy in September. The head of the mining major said that "too many standards for the same ESG dimensions leads to confusion and dissipated effort."
To reduce the number of disconnected standards the coalition of mining organisations will compile the "best attributes" from their individual standards to create "a single, global standard that would be practical and implementable by any mine operator regardless of commodity, geography, or size."
To oversee the new standards an independent multi-stakeholder oversight system will also be implemented.
"Everything we do at ICMM is aimed at helping raise the standards of responsible mining, represented by our Mining Principles," said Rohitesh Dhawan, chief executive and president at ICMM. "As a condition of membership, these Principles and their accompanying site-based Performance Expectations have helped deliver significant change across approximately 650 sites in over 50 countries where our members operate and many others beyond."
He continued: "This change will need to continue and reach all parts of the global mining industry to foster a safe, just and sustainable world enabled by responsibly produced metals and minerals. Key to this is having a multi-stakeholder governed standard for responsible mining that drives continuous improvement at scale."
Once complete, the multi-organisation standard has the potential to "have the widest coverage of any voluntary responsible mining standard to date."
An estimated 80 mining companies, with 700 operations in nearly 60 countries would be initially brought on.
"When MAC first launched Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) in 2004, it was unique as a site-level performance system with independent assurance and multi-stakeholder oversight," said Pierre Gratton, president and chief executive of MAC. "Today, the landscape has changed and there are a number of different mining standards with some of the same attributes. A consolidation of several of today's standards into one can simplify the landscape for customers, investors, civil society and the mining industry itself."
Gratton went on to note that MAC's role will drive performance improvement and amplify the perspectives of communities affected by mining.
In addition to the standards established by ICMM and MAC, the Copper Mark and World Gold Council have also spearheaded ESG-focused measures in their respective resource sectors.
The success of the Copper Mark program, which the International Copper Association established to verify responsibly sourced copper- has led to the creation of the Zinc Mark, as well as the Nickel Mark and Molybdenum Mark.
"The Copper Mark offers a robust assurance framework for copper, molybdenum, nickel and zinc that is governed to equal parts by industry and non-industry representatives," said Michèle Brülhart, executive director of Copper Mark. "In an increasingly complex landscape of sustainability initiatives, exploring the option of converging responsible mining standards provides us with an opportunity to build on the strengths of each existing system with a view to scale the implementation of responsible practices across the mining industry."
Similarly, the World Gold Council established the Gold Bar Integrity program in 2022 to ensure the provenance of the gold that is produced, bought and traded. The initiative is guided by the Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMPs) established in 2019.
"Recognising that many of our members produce other metals as well as gold, and additionally, report across a number of different responsible mining standards and reporting frameworks, we believe that it is appropriate to explore the potential in developing a single, global framework that covers all commodities," said David Tait, chief executive of the World Gold Council. "We strongly believe that responsible mining underpins sustained socio-economic development and therefore, we support efforts to increase wider adoption of responsible mining standards."