The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) has announced the BMW Group has become the first carmaker to join the global effort for the third-party certification of social and environmental performance at mine sites.
IRMA is a precedent-setting global certification program for industrial-scale mine sites. With growing awareness and demand for ecologically and socially-responsible products, jewellers, electronics businesses, auto makers and others have sought assurances that the minerals they purchase are mined responsibly.
As a member of IRMA, the BMW Group will be participating in IRMA programs to transform the industrial mining sector towards more responsible practices. IRMA measures performance of mine sites against their Standard for Responsible Mining. The Standard seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification programs in organic agriculture, responsible forestry and sustainable fisheries. The Standard for Responsible Mining reflects the input from over 100 companies, organisations and individuals worldwide.
Members in IRMA include a variety of stakeholders in the mining supply chain or that are affected by mining, including purchasers of mined materials Microsoft and Tiffany & Co.; labour unions IndustriALL Global Union (that represents more than 50 million workers in mining and manufacturing in 140 countries) and United Steelworkers; non-profit organizations Earthworks and Human Rights Watch; mining companies Anglo American and ArcelorMittal and mining-affected communities. IRMA has been referred to in the work or campaigns of more than 60 non-profit organisations and mining-affected community organisations.
“Sustainability is an important aspect of our corporate strategy and we are fully aware of our responsibility in mineral value chains.” said Dr. Andreas Wendt, member of the board of management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network. “For the BMW Group and its stakeholders, it is of the utmost importance that environmental and social standards are adhered to throughout the entire value chain. Raw materials form the basis for every industrial production process and our need will continue to grow accordingly,” underlined Wendt. “We believe that IRMA, with its ambitious certification standard, will contribute to enhancing responsibility in global value chains and improving environmental and social performance.”
The Standard for Responsible Mining is the result of more than ten years of collaboration among groups from the mining industry, organized labour, non-profit organisations, impacted communities, and businesses. The Standard offers shared value for mining industry participants, while addressing purchaser demand for greater options in sourcing responsibly mined materials, and civil society desire for transparency and independent verification.
“The auto sector is a powerful purchaser of materials that come from mines. We are happy to have the BMW Group join IRMA and we look forward to supporting their commitment to increasing environmental and social responsibility in their supply chains,” said Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA.
The Standard for Responsible Mining’s best practice requirements for mining include elements such as health and safety for workers, human rights, community engagement, pollution control, mining in conflict-affected areas, rights of indigenous peoples, transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments, and land reclamation once mining is done. The Standard is not simply a pass/fail system, instead focused on transparency, where different levels of performance are recognized and continuous improvement is encouraged, but where certification is still available for those industrial-scale mine sites meeting best practice requirements.
While the Standard for Responsible Mining is intended to complement, not replace, strong laws and regulations, where policy or regulation is lacking, the IRMA Standard can fill the void to align with and, in some cases, bolster government regulations, helping to increase transparency in the mining sector.