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Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Respecting human rights ought to occupy the highest levels of focus for any industry, particularly one with the impact and reach of ours.

A critical human rights risk for the industry is how it engages with and impacts Indigenous Peoples. Our work builds on long-standing commitments to ensure the respect for and enhancement of human rights, with particular focus on the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples. We will be reviewing key aspects of our guidance and exploring opportunities to meaningfully contribute in other areas also, such as human rights defenders.

Issues at a glance

  • Every person around the world deserves to be treated with dignity and equality. The mining industry sometimes operates in areas where human rights abuses occur, and businesses have a responsibility to act with due diligence to avoid infringing the rights of others, to leverage their activities to prevent against infringements and to address or participate in remediation where necessary.
  • Human rights due diligence involves integrating human rights into existing risk management approaches and conducting standalone impact assessments. This is key in identifying and mitigating potential adverse impacts and risks. Companies must demonstrate operations and the materials they source are not associated with human rights violations, conflict, or corruption.
  • Mineral deposits are often situated under land belonging to Indigenous Peoples, creating specific obligations for companies. Indigenous Peoples often have distinguished cultural characteristics, governance structures and ways of interacting. ICMM members commit to respect their rights, interests, and perspectives by adopting processes ensuring meaningful participation in decision-making.
  • ICMM recognises the right of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Additionally, irrespective of local context or where there may be no recognition of indigeneity, ICMM members endeavour to apply same principles to communities that exhibit commonly accepted characteristics of Indigenous Peoples and eliminate discrimination or disadvantage related to culture, identity, or vulnerability.
  • Indigenous Peoples have individual and collective rights, and interests. ICMM members commit to respect the rights, interests and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples by adopting processes that ensure meaningful participation in decision-making. Our Mining Principles also requires members apply the mitigation hierarchy to address adverse impacts and deliver sustainable benefits.

Our priorities

Reviewing existing member commitments related to engaging with Indigenous Peoples

To ensure that member commitments are in line with current societal expectations, we will be assessing leading practice and existing industry commitments in relation to Indigenous Peoples (including position on free, prior and informed consent, FPIC) and assess against current ICMM commitments.


Building relationships with Indigenous Peoples

Engagement with Indigenous Peoples in many regions remains challenging. To build stronger relationships between industry and Indigenous Peoples, we will identify gaps and opportunities for new practical resources on issues such as consultation and consent processes. We will also undertake dialogue with interested stakeholders to build trust and improve industry performance in engagement with, and the participation of, Indigenous Peoples.


Supporting the integration of human rights due diligence into business decision making

To facilitate the integration of human rights due diligence into business decision making we will update ICMM’s human rights due diligence guidance to ensure it represents leading practice and responds to external policy developments.


Engaging with external stakeholders and influencing international policy

We actively engage in international forums on business human rights to ensure ongoing focus and partnerships on critical business and human rights issues, and to support embedding respect for human rights across the industry. This includes participating as a permanent observer to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs), and as a delegate in the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights.


Demonstrating improvement and good practice

To demonstrate performance improvement related to human rights we will continue to communicate member progress on integrating human rights due diligence into decision making in practice and progress on implementation of other human rights commitments.