Mining Principles: Performance Expectations
Increasingly, society understands that the decarbonising of the global economy, the meeting of the Paris Agreement climate targets and the realising of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires a sustained demand for metals and minerals over the coming decades. This has rightly led to greater scrutiny of where these materials have come from and of whether they are being produced responsibly.
ICMM has long recognised that economic growth should never be at the expense of people or planet. In 2003, ICMM published its 10 Principles for sustainable development to set a standard of ethical performance for our members. Over time, we have worked to expand on these with eight position statements on key issues, such as water stewardship and transparency of mineral revenues.
In early April 2018, ICMM launched a global public consultation on the introduction of a comprehensive set of performance expectations on how members should be expected to manage a broad range of sustainability issues at the corporate and operational levels, to enhance these original 10 principles.
Our enhanced Mining Principles strengthen social and environmental requirements, on issues such as labour rights, resettlement, gender, access to grievance mechanisms, mine closure, pollution and waste. Implementation is supported by robust site-level validation, credible assurance and transparent disclosure. Aligned with the objectives of other responsible sourcing initiatives, our assurance and validation procedure reinforces commitments to transparency, and ensures the credibility of reported progress.
The environmental, social and governance demands on industry are becoming increasingly complex and at the same time essential. We encourage all mining companies to join our members in adopting ICMM’s Mining Principles.
Strengthening DEI in ICMM’s Mining Principles
Recognising a need to help reinforce the integral role of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to sustainable development, in June 2022 ICMM incorporated critical updates to the Mining Principles to include additional actions to eliminate all forms of harassment and unfair discrimination from the workplace, and set out proactive steps to achieve gender equity. This is an important first step in enabling the unincumbered participation of all peoples and in cementing the importance of psychological safety alongside physical health and safety in our efforts to achieve zero harm. We encourage all mining companies to implement these standards to improve performance on this critical issue for the industry.
Principles and Performance Expectations
1 – Ethical Business
Apply ethical business practices and sound systems of corporate governance and transparency to support sustainable development.
- Establish systems to maintain compliance with applicable law.
- Implement policies and practices to prevent bribery, corruption and to publicly disclose facilitation payments.
- Implement policies and standards consistent with the ICMM policy framework.
- Assign accountability for sustainability performance at the Board and/or Executive Committee level.
- Disclose the value and beneficiaries of financial and in-kind political contributions whether directly or through an intermediary.
2 – Decision-Making
Integrate sustainable development in corporate strategy and decision-making processes.
- Integrate sustainable development principles into corporate strategy and decision-making processes relating to investments and in the design, operation and closure of facilities.
- Support the adoption of responsible physical and psychological health and safety, environmental, human rights and labour policies and practices by joint venture partners, suppliers and contractors, based on risk.
3 – Human Rights
Respect human rights and the interests, cultures, customs and values of workers and communities affected by our activities.
- Support the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by developing a policy commitment to respect human rights, undertaking human rights due diligence and providing for or cooperating in processes to enable the remediation of adverse human rights impacts that members have caused or contributed to.
- Avoid the involuntary physical or economic displacement of families and communities. Where this is not possible apply the mitigation hierarchy and implement actions or remedies that address residual adverse effects to restore or improve livelihoods and standards of living of displaced people.
- Implement, based on risk, a human rights and security approach consistent with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
- Respect the rights of workers by: not employing child or forced labour; avoiding human trafficking; not assigning hazardous/dangerous work to those under 18; eliminating all forms of harassment and discrimination; respecting freedom of association and collective bargaining; and providing an appropriate mechanism to address workers grievances.
- Equitably remunerate employees with wages that equal or exceed legal requirements or represent a competitive wage within that job market (whichever is higher) and assign regular and overtime working hours within legally required limits.
- Respect the rights, interests, aspirations, culture and natural resource-based livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples in project design, development and operation; apply the mitigation hierarchy to address adverse impacts and; deliver sustainable benefits for Indigenous Peoples.
- Work to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples where significant adverse impacts are likely to occur, as a result of relocation, disturbance of lands and territories or of critical cultural heritage, and capture the outcomes of engagement and consent processes in agreements.
- Implement policies and practices to respect the rights and interests of women that reflect gender-informed approaches to work practices and job design, and that protect against all forms of discrimination and harassment, and behaviours that adversely impact on women’s successful participation in the workplace.
- Implement policies and practices to respect the rights and interests of all workers and improve workforce representation in the workplace so it is more inclusive.
4 – Risk Management
Implement effective risk-management strategies and systems based on sound science and which account for stakeholder perceptions of risks.
- Assess environmental and social risks and opportunities of new projects and of significant changes to existing operations in consultation with interested and affected stakeholders, and publicly disclose assessment results.
- Undertake risk-based due diligence on conflict and human rights that aligns with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, when operating in, or sourcing from, a conflict-affected or high-risk area.
- Implement risk-based controls to avoid/prevent, minimise, mitigate and/or remedy physical and psychological health, safety and environmental impacts to workers, local communities, cultural heritage and the natural environment, based upon a recognised international standard or management system.
- Develop, maintain and test emergency response plans. Where risks to external stakeholders are significant, this should be in collaboration with potentially affected stakeholders and consistent with established industry good practice.
5 – Health and Safety
Pursue continual improvement in physical and psychological health and safety performance with the ultimate goal of zero harm.
- Implement practices aimed at continually improving workplace physical and psychological health and safety, and monitor performance for the elimination of workplace fatalities, serious injuries, psychosocial hazards and prevention of occupational diseases, based upon a recognised international standard or management system.
- Provide workers with training in accordance with their responsibilities for physical and psychological health and safety and implement health surveillance and risk-based monitoring programmes based on occupational exposures.
6 – Environmental Performance
Pursue continual improvement in environmenal performance issues, such as water stewardship, energy use and climate change.
- Plan and design for closure in consultation with relevant authorities and stakeholders, implement measures to address closure-related environmental and social aspects, and make financial provision to enable agreed closure and postclosure commitments to be realised.
- Implement water stewardship practices that provide for strong and transparent water governance, effective and efficient management of water at operations, and collaboration with stakeholders at a catchment level to achieve responsible and sustainable water use.
- Design, construct, operate, monitor and decommission tailings disposal/storage facilities using comprehensive, risk-based management and governance practices in line with internationally recognised good practice, to minimise the risk of catastrophic failure. 
- Apply the mitigation hierarchy to prevent pollution, manage releases and waste, and address potential impacts on human health and the environment.
- Implement measures to improve energy efficiency and contribute to a low-carbon future, and report the outcomes based on internationally recognised protocols for measuring CO2 equivalent (GHG) emissions.
7 – Conservation of Biodiversity
Contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and integrated approaches to land-use planning.
- Neither explore nor develop new mines in World Heritage sites, respect legally designated protected areas, and design and operate any new operations or changes to existing operations to be compatible with the value for which such areas were designated.
- Assess and address risks and impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services by implementing the mitigation hierarchy, with the ambition of achieving no-net-loss of biodiversity.
8 – Responsible Production
Facilitate and support the knowledge-base and systems for responsible design, use, re-use, recycling and disposal of products containing metals and minerals.
- In project design, operation and de-commissioning, implement cost-effective measures for the recovery, re-use or recycling of energy, natural resources, and materials.
- Assess the hazards of the products of mining according to UN Globally Harmonised System of Hazard Classification and Labelling or equivalent relevant regulatory systems and communicate through safety data sheets and labelling as appropriate.
9 – Social Performance
Pursue continual improvement in social performance and contribute to the social, economic and institutional development of host countries and communities.
- Implement inclusive approaches with local communities to identify their development priorities and support activities that contribute to their lasting social and economic wellbeing, in partnership with government, civil society and development agencies, as appropriate.
- Enable access by local enterprises to procurement and contracting opportunities across the project life-cycle, both directly and by encouraging larger contractors and suppliers, and also by supporting initiatives to enhance economic opportunities for local communities.
- Conduct stakeholder engagement based upon an analysis of the local context and provide local stakeholders with access to appropriate and effective mechanisms for seeking resolution of grievances related to the company and its activities.
- Collaborate with government, where appropriate, to support improvements in environmental and social practices of local Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM).
10 – Stakeholder Engagement
Proactively engage key stakeholders on sustainable development challenges and opportunities in an open and transparent manner. Effectively report and independently verify progress and performance.
- Identify and engage with key corporate-level external stakeholders on sustainable development issues in an open and transparent manner.
- Publicly support the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and compile information on all material payments, at the appropriate levels of government, by country and by project.
- Report annually on economic, social and environmental performance at the corporate level using the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards.
- Each year, conduct independent assurance of sustainability performance following the ICMM guidance on assuring and verifying membership requirements.
Assurance and Validation
Building on the values and commitments of members, ICMM’s Mining Principles combines enhanced performance expectations with robust site-level validation of performance expectations and assurance of corporate sustainability reports. Aligned with the objectives of other responsible sourcing initiatives, our assurance and validation procedure reinforces commitments to transparency, and ensures the credibility of reported progress on social and environmental performance.
While Sustainability Report Assurance has been the primary component of ICMM’s assurance procedure since 2008, starting in 2020, validation of progress with implementing performance expectations at the corporate and asset levels is required. The expectation is that company members will disclose their validation activities on an annual basis.
Assets subject to validation include all operations involved in the production or refining of minerals and metals over which a company member exercises control. Validation comprises the following elements:
- Self-assessment of all assets subject to PE validation (ie subject assets).
- Prioritisation of assets for third-party validation.
- Third-party validation of prioritised assets.
Company members are required to complete a self-assessment of all applicable assets once every three years. Members are also required to conduct third-party validation of prioritised assets within a three-year validation cycle. Validation activities evaluate the implementation of the Performance Expectations individually. There is no overall outcome for a given asset. Validation outcomes are determined for each individual Performance Expectation, with possible outcomes comprising: ‘Meets’, ‘Partially Meets,’ and ‘Does not Meet’. In some situations, the outcome may be ‘not applicable’.
Third-party Validations must be conducted by qualified validation service providers (VSPs). VSPs are professional service providers that must meet ICMM requirements for independence, experience, expertise and lack of conflicts of interest. ICMM will keep a register of VSPs for members or other interested parties use.
Members are required to disclose, publicly, their validation activities on an annual basis. The disclosure will need to be made on a member’s website or in a sustainability or corporate report.
Since 2003, Position Statements have been developed to clearly articulate member commitments on a number of critical industry challenges. Position Statements are endorsed by the ICMM Council and include specific commitments that members must implement, alongside the Performance Expectations.
1. ICMM’s member companies already comply with all applicable law in the countries that they operate in. However, many stakeholders say they want mining companies to show that they have strong systems that ensure legal compliance.
2. Psychological health in the workplace is defined in international literature as the ability to think, feel and behave in a manner that enables workers to perform effectively. Psychological safety in the workplace is defined as the risk of injury to the psychological wellbeing of a worker.
3. ‘Workers’ is defined in the Health and Safety Performance Indicators Guidance, 2021, as ‘people who are engaged in work-related activities on behalf of an employer. Workers may be employees, contractors or third parties’.
4. ‘Workplace’ is defined in the Health and Safety Performance Indicators Guidance, 2021, under work environment as ‘the establishment and other locations where one or more workers are engaged in work-related activities as a condition of employment. The work environment includes not only geographic or physical locations but also the equipment or materials used by the worker during the course of his or her work‘.
5. All workers regardless of sex, gender, national origin, Indigeneity, age, caring responsibilities, cultural background, ethnicity, linguistic background, physical or mental ability status, religious a liation, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, socio-economic background and/or other categories of under-representation.
6. These should cover issues such as air, water, biodiversity, noise and vibration, health, safety, human rights, gender, cultural heritage and economic issues. The consultation process should be gender sensitive and inclusive of marginalised and vulnerable groups.
8. As of 5 August 2020, all ICMM members commi ed to implement the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM). All tailings facilities operated by members with “Extreme” or “Very high” potential consequences will be in conformance with the Standard by 5 August 2023. All other tailings facilities operated by members not in a state of safe closure will be in conformance with the Standard by 5 August 2025.
9. Riverine tailings, freshwater lake and / or shallow marine tailings disposal may be considered only if deemed to be the most environmentally and socially sound alternative, based on an objective and rigorous environmental and social impact assessment of tailings management alternatives. The scope of the assessment should be agreed between the member company and the host government.