Mining Specific Standards

Resource Transparency – Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

For resource-rich countries, the management of a country’s natural resource revenues for the benefit of a country’s citizens is the domain of sovereign governments. Revenues from mining companies in the form of taxes, royalties, signature bonuses and other payments should help drive economic growth and social development in developing and transition countries. However, if not managed well, these resource revenues can create negative economic and social impacts. A lack of accountability and transparency in these revenues can worsen poor governance and lead to corruption, conflict and poverty.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) aims to strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the extractives sector. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative comprised of governments, companies, civil society groups, investors and international organisations. The EITI sets a global standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive.

The RJC Code of Practices requires Member mining companies to formally commit to and support EITI implementation. Resource transparency is also addressed in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a requirement for RJC Members with Mining Facilities. Under the GRI Mining and Metals Sector Supplement, payments to governments and EITI implementation are disclosed under the GRI reporting framework.

Community Engagement and Development

Community is a term generally applied to the inhabitants of immediate and surrounding areas who are affected in some way by a company’s activities; these effects may be economic and social as well as environmental in nature.

Community engagement is a two way information sharing and decision making process covering community issues and priorities as well as the concerns and needs of the business. Beyond just listening, the aim is to ensure mutual understanding and responsiveness by all parties to enable them to manage decisions that have the potential to affect all concerned.

Community development is the process whereby people increase the strength and effectiveness of their communities, improve their quality of life, enhance their participation in decision making and achieve greater long term control over their lives.

The Code requires all Members to:

  • Seek to support the development of the communities in which they operate

The Code also requires Members with Mining Facilities to:

  • Have appropriate skills, resources and systems in place for early and ongoing engagement with affected communities and stakeholders throughout the project’s lifecycle.
  • Avoid or otherwise minimise involuntary resettlement.
  • Ensure that affected communities have access to rights-compatible complaints and grievance mechanisms at the operational level.

Use of Security Personnel

The primary role of security personnel is the protection of the company’s people, property, product and reputation. Whilst carrying out this role, security personnel require a wide range of procedures and associated training to ensure that security is provided in an effective and responsible manner. In some cases, security personnel are trained to enforce company rules, though under the Code of Practices this should not include disciplining employees. At all times, and particularly when armed, security personnel should use the minimum force proportionate to a threat.

Human rights abuses are more likely to occur in conflict zones. Extractive industries in particular can find themselves close to the front-line of conflict when operating in conflict prone zones. Mining activities can inadvertently trigger or sustain violence, or become the focus of resentment. The range of costs imposed by conflict on companies can be direct and indirect. Direct costs most obviously relate to the increased cost of protecting staff and property. Indirect costs are those that impact the operating environment, only to rebound as costs on the company. A ‘conflict-sensitive’ approach to doing business is one that seeks to avoid these costs by developing informed conflict-management strategies. Companies need to avoid any complicity in harms committed in conflict situations.

The Code of Practices requires RJC Members to:

  • Only use armed security personnel when there is no acceptable alternative to manage risk or to ensure the personal safety of Employees, Contractors and Visitors.
  • Ensure that security personnel respect the human rights and dignity of all people and use the minimum force proportionate to the threat.

The Code also requires Members with Mining Facilities to:

  • Ensure that security risk assessments are conducted and security personnel receive training and operate in accordance with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (2000).

Indigenous Peoples

Successful mining and metal projects require the broad support of the communities in which they operate, including of Indigenous Peoples, from exploration through to closure. Without the support of affected Indigenous Peoples, underpinned by free, prior and informed consultation, projects face significant social and financial risk.

Interactions between mining companies and Indigenous Peoples should occur in the context of broader community engagement but at the same time, giving special attention to the particular histories, capacities, priorities and interests of Indigenous Peoples. It is recognized that Indigenous Peoples play a vital role in sustainable development; that mineral development projects can help advance the economic development of Indigenous communities; and these communities in turn can play a vital role in the development of natural resources.

The Code of Practices requires RJC Members with Mining Facilities to:

  • Respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples as articulated and defined in applicable provincial, national and international laws and their social, cultural, environmental and economic interests, including their connection with lands and waters.
  • Seek to obtain broad-based support of affected Indigenous Peoples and to have this support formally documented, including partnerships and/or programs to provide benefits and mitigate impacts.

Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is the oldest form of mining. It is estimated that up to 20 million people in at least 30 countries are active in ASM and a further 100 million people depend on the sector for their livelihood. In various countries, small-scale miners are known by terms such as galamsey, orpailleurs, ubeshi or wabeshi, panners, diggers, garimperos, pirquineros and pocket miners.

The intent of the RJC standard on ASM is to encourage approaches which facilitate the co-existence of ASM and large-scale mining (LSM) operations and promote the development of legal, orderly, viable small-scale mining sectors in collaboration with host communities and governments. In some circumstances governments can take a lead role, in others NGOs or development agencies could be the facilitators, and in others LSM may need to play a driving role in encouraging reform. In each case, local communities and ASM workers should be at the core of a participatory approach.

The Code of Practices requires RJC Members with Mining Facilities which have Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) on or near their operations to:

  • Participate in initiatives that enable the professionalisation and formalisation of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)
  • Engage directly with ASM communities as part of the company’s Social and Environmental Impact Assessment and community engagement processes.

Waste and Emissions

Wastes and emissions are solid, liquid or gaseous materials that are released, discarded or no longer needed. Wastes and emissions can cause pollution and impact on the environment if not properly managed. In the jewellery supply chain, the main forms of waste include general operational waste, air and water emissions, and some types of hazardous substances.

The RJC Code of Practices requires that all Members must:

  • Dispose of waste substances in compliance with Applicable Law
  • Take steps to reduce the quantity of waste produced from their operations
  • Seek to decrease emissions to air, water and land relative to production output.

Tailings and waste rock facilities are an integral part of many mining operations and one of the mining industry’s key challenges to improving its environmental performance. Tailings consist of ground rock and effluents that are generated during processing of ore. Waste rock and overburden are the materials that are removed to access the ore.

Diamond and gold mining operations involve a range of different types of mining processes in very different environments, requiring site-specific approaches to management of these large volume mine wastes. Risks can vary widely depending on type of ore, waste and site conditions.

RJC’s Code of Practices states that Members must:

  • Ensure structural stability of tailings facilities and waste rock facilities to protect surrounding environment and local communities
  • Not use riverine tailings disposal at new facilities. Any Mining Facilities that currently use riverine tailings disposal cannot be included in the Member’s RJC Certification. These Facilities will be excluded from the Certification, but all other relevant COP provisions apply.
  • Not use submarine tailings disposal for land based Mining Facilities unless specific criteria are met.
  • Identify mining wastes to manage potential impacts

Biodiversity

Mining has the potential to affect biodiversity throughout the life cycle of a project, both directly and indirectly. The potential for significant impacts is greater when mining occurs in environmentally or socially sensitive areas. Mining is increasingly being proposed in remote areas that were previously unexplored and undeveloped for minerals, some of which are biodiversity-rich. The opening up of new prospective areas to mineral resources development provides an opportunity for the mining industry to demonstrate that practices have improved, including making ‘no-go’ decisions.

However, not all mining takes place in remote or highly sensitive areas. Some greenfield or expansion projects will be developed in relatively highly populated areas, industrial settings or regions that have been intensively farmed for many decades, where biodiversity is limited. In these situations, the focus should be on developing a sufficient understanding of local biodiversity and exploring opportunities for biodiversity enhancement with appropriate partners.

Despite the potential for negative impacts on biodiversity from mining operations, there is a great deal that companies can do to minimize or prevent such impacts in areas identified as being appropriate for mining. Being proactive in the assessment and management of biodiversity is important not only for new operations but also for those that have been operating for many years.
The RJC Code of Practices requires Members with Mining Facilities to:

  • Not explore or mine in World Heritage Sites and ensure that their activities do not negatively impact directly on adjacent World Heritage Sites.
  • Respect legally designated protected areas.
  • Identify Key Biodiversity Areas within their operations and implement action plans to deliver biodiversity benefits commensurate with the level of biodiversity impacts.
  • Not undertake an activity that will, or is likely to, lead to the extinction of a species listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as threatened with extinction.
  • Rehabilitate land disturbed or occupied by Mining Facilities by adopting good practice techniques.

Impact Assessment

Impact assessment plays a critical role in a sustainable approach to developing and operating Mining Facilities. Considering impacts, benefits and mitigation strategies from a variety of perspectives, and from the beginning to the end of operations, these processes encourage a ‘whole-of-mine-life’ approach to the design, construction, operation and closure of a mine.

The purpose of an impact assessment is to identify, analyse and evaluate effects from a project and to identify measures to mitigate negative impacts and enhance positive impacts. The scale and detail of impact assessments should be proportional to the activities and their impacts, and the effects of indirect and cumulative impacts should be considered. Since mines have a finite life, the assessment process should include an analysis of options for and impacts of mine closure. Thus the timeframe for the assessment should cover during and beyond the lifetime of a mine, addressing local needs and priorities.

The RJC Code of Practices requires that Members with Mining Facilities engage with affected communities and stakeholders to complete an environmental and social impact assessment, and associated environmental and social management plans. The Impact Assessment section of the COP is applicable to proposed new Mining Facilities and to proposed significant changes to existing Mining Facilities that have the potential to affect local communities and the surrounding environment.

Mine Closure Planning

The closure of mine sites needs to be planned as carefully as their opening. What happens at a site after it is closed is what ultimately defines its long-term impact on, and contribution to, an area’s social, economic and institutional development. An integrated approach to closure takes the environmental, economic and social considerations into account from an early stage and continues throughout a mine site’s life. Fundamental to this approach is the need to consider closure as a core part of the business. New mine sites require a closure plan from start-up and existing facilities need to put in place a comprehensive plan to comply with RJC’s Code of Practices.

The RJC Code of Practices requires that Members with Mining Facilities will:

  • Prepare and regularly review a mine closure plan in relation to each Mining Facility, and ensure that adequate resources, including financial resources, are available to meet closure and rehabilitation requirements.
  • Engage regularly with local stakeholders in relation to each Mining Facility, including Indigenous Peoples, communities, ASM, employees and regulators, regarding mine closure and rehabilitation plans.

Sustainability Reporting

Sustainability reporting is a process for publicly disclosing an organization’s economic, environmental, and social performance. The term “sustainability reporting” is synonymous with citizenship reporting, social reporting, triple-bottom line reporting and other terms that encompass the economic, environmental, and social aspects of an organization’s performance.

The need for a similar common framework for sustainability reporting led to the development of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI was launched in 1997 and has become the global voluntary standard in sustainability reporting. The GRI’s vision is that reporting on economic, environmental and social performance by all organizations is as routine and comparable as financial reporting. As of January 2009, more than 1500 companies use the GRI Guidelines to frame their sustainability reporting.

The RJC Code of Practices requires that Members with Mining Facilities report annually on their sustainability performance using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines and GRI Mining and Metals Sector Supplement. The reports must have external assurance as defined by the GRI.

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