ICMM response to Responsible Mining Foundation’s recently released assessment of ICMM member companies
London, UK – Responsible Mining Foundation (RMF) recently released a report claiming to be an assessment of ICMM members’ implementation of the ICMM Performance Expectations for those ICMM members included in the Responsible Mining Index Report 2022. However, as the report acknowledges in the introduction, rather than providing an assessment of how ICMM members are performing against the ICMM membership commitments, instead it assesses how 18 of our 26 member companies are performing against RMF’s own indicators that are claimed to serve as proxy indicators for the level of compliance with ICMM’s Performance Expectations, based on public domain data.
ICMM acknowledges the constructive intent of the exercise – to hold companies accountable to the commitments they make. However, the approach contains several fundamental flaws that devalue its findings, including:
- Rather than presenting an assessment of ICMM’s members’ performance against the ICMM Performance Expectations, which they have committed to, it presents an assessment of members performance against the RMI Framework – which they have not committed to. Where we see strong alignment between ICMM’s member commitments and the RMI Framework, we see stronger results. However, in many instances the proxy indicators in the RMI Framework are simply not aligned with what is included in the ICMM Mining Principles and Performance Expectations, and as such performance scores are lower.
The RMI Framework is reliant on a level of disclosure that many companies have not currently committed to, and we also question the reasonableness and value of some of the disclosures that RMF expects to see.
To illustrate this point by one corporate level commitment, RMF expects companies to commit to preventing all direct and indirect forms of bribery and corruption. As part of that, RMF expects companies to disclose a formal commitment, responsibility and accountability, and resources (financial and staffing) applied, which closely aligns with ICMM’s expectations and as such the document shows strong results.
In addition, RMF expects to see companies disclose tracking data, effectiveness reviews/audits, and responsive actions to improve performance. While ICMM fully expects that most companies will have such processes in place, we don’t expect to see specific disclosures to support this – and we can see how the prospect of disclosure might also undermine the value of such processes. ‘Bribery and corruption’ is one of those performance areas that is typically regulated. In other ESG performance areas that are also regulated, such as Health & Safety, we would not expect to see companies disclose tracking data, effectiveness reviews/audits, and responsive actions to improve Health & Safety performance.
That expectation of the disclosure of tracking data, effectiveness reviews/audits, and responsive actions is repeated across multiple performance areas in the RMI Framework, so unsurprisingly RMF’s analysis against its own requirements (as opposed to what ICMM members commit to) sets ICMM members up for failure. We remain convinced that the prospect of disclosure might undermine the value of such processes and urge RMF to consider the unintended consequences of demanding such disclosures.
In several performance areas, the RMI Framework serves as a very poor proxy for ICMM’s requirements. For example, RMF requires companies commit to respect the right of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), which aligns with ICMM, but in addition the RMI framework requires companies to support the extension of the principle of FPIC to other project-affected groups. Unsurprisingly, the coupling of both these requirements by RMF sets ICMM members up for failure in their analysis.
Perhaps most importantly, the evidentiary basis for RMF to assess performance is solely reliant on public disclosures. In contrast, the evidentiary basis that ICMM uses to assess conformance with membership commitments is multi-faceted, relying on a range of documents, interviews etc. in addition to information in the public domain. ICMM’s requirements start with companies undertaking a self-assessment of conformance at the site level, followed by an independent 3rd party assessment of conformance where the range of evidence is interrogated to ensure it does demonstrate conformance with the Performance Expectations. The results of these self-assessments and 3rd party validations are then made publicly available in a disclosure on the company’s website.
The report makes a recommendation that ICMM should require public disclosure of mine-site level data. Disclosure at the site level is a key part of ICMM’s membership requirements, with ICMM members already beginning to make disclosures, which give insight into the quality of management in a broad range of performance areas. The timeline for completing self-assessments and beginning third party validation of site level performance are approaching later in 2022, and a greater level of detail will be available for site level performance by all members will be seen over the coming years. However, RMF’s call for disaggregation of performance data to the mine site level is often neither justifiable nor will it necessarily offer insights. For example, disaggregating health and safety statistics or water consumption by mine sites may tell you very little about the quality of management at a particular asset – which is what we aim to achieve through the site level disclosures we require of members.
RMF acknowledges that “the results of the low-scoring companies do not necessarily reflect a lack of relevant policies and practices; as they may be due to a lack of public reporting by the companies, limitations in accessing information, and/or any difficulties in accessing the RMI company portal”. However, we would also urge RMF to acknowledge the additional point raised above that the prospect of disclosure of tracking data, effectiveness reviews/audits, and responsive actions might undermine the value of such processes.
Notes to Editor
ICMM stands for mining with principles. We bring together a third of the global metals and mining industry, along with key partners to drive leadership, action and innovation for sustainable development, ultimately delivering a positive contribution to society. Through collaboration, ICMM member companies set the standard for responsibly produced minerals and metals in a safe, just, and sustainable world.
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