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06 – Environmental Performance

ICMM company members commit to pursue continual improvement in environmental performance issues, such as water stewardship, energy use and climate change.

Industry has a responsibility to be proactive in contributing practical solutions to the significant environmental challenges facing society. ICMM members adopt practices and approaches that support continuous improvement in environmental performance to manage the adverse impacts of operations and deliver sustainable benefits for people and the planet.

Performance Expectations

Developed with extensive input from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international organisations and academics, our Mining Principles establish baseline performance expectations for a responsible mining and metals industry. ICMM's Mining Principles include five Performance Expectations under Principle 6: Environmental Performance.

  • 6.1 – Plan for Closure

    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 post-closure commitments to be realised.

  • 6.2 – Implement Water Stewardship Practices

    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.

  • 6.3 – Effectively Manage Tailings

    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.[1] [2]

  • 6.4 – Prevent Pollution and Manage Releases and Waste

    Apply the mitigation hierarchy to prevent pollution, manage releases and waste, and address potential impacts on human health and the environment.

  • 6.5 – Improve Energy Efficiency and Reduce GHG Emissions

    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.

Supporting Global Goals

As momentum behind the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues to grow, there is mounting pressure on the private sector to support the delivery of a wide variety of development objectives. ICMM’s Mining Principles can support the mining and metals industry in addressing climate change, ending poverty and tackling rising inequalities.

Each SDG connects with or can be directly influenced by ICMM’s Mining Principles. Unlike many other sectors, there is no primary point of connection between mining and a single SDG. Instead, operations have the extraordinary potential to contribute to several goals at once. The contribution mining products to almost every aspect of life is arguably becoming more important than ever – with metals and minerals enabling the innovations needed to deliver pathways to a greener, safer and more sustainable future.


1. As of 5 August 2020, all ICMM members committed 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.

2. 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 company member and the host government.