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The new Responsible Mining Index 2018 is launched

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

The Responsible Mining Foundation has released the Responsible Mining Index 2018, which aims to encourage continuous improvement in responsible mining and support leading practice and learning. The Index, which, according to the company, is independent of the industry, covers 30 large-scale mining companies that together represent a quarter of the global production of mined commodities and operate over 700 mines in more than 40 countries. 

The Responsible Mining Index 2018 is the first of a multi-year initiative by the Responsible Mining Foundation. The Index assesses and compares company policies and practices across six different EESG areas: economic development, business conduct, lifecycle management, community wellbeing, working conditions and environmental responsibility. As an evidence-based assessment, the Index measures the extent to which companies can demonstrate, rather than simply claim, that they have established responsible policies and practices. In order to support transparency and open data principles, the RMI results, and the information sources used in the assessment, are provided free as a public good.

According to the Foundation, the Index results show that responsible mining is a realistic goal. If a single company were to achieve the highest score recorded for each indicator, it would reach more than 70% of the maximum achievable score. The results also reveal a wide range of companies demonstrating responsible practice on particular issues. Indeed, some 19 of the 30 companies rank among the ten strongest performers for at least one thematic area of the Index. And leading practices are found even on issues for which performances are generally, weak, such as addressing the needs of vulnerable groups in mining-affected communities.

These results all point to the strong potential for continuous improvement based on existing practices already demonstrated by a number of different companies.

On the other hand, the results show some marked limitations in current practice. Companies tend to put in place policy commitments without always backing these up with systematic, effective company-wide action. This is seen even for topics where commitments are common and commonly expected, such as human rights and occupational health and safety. Furthermore, the scale and persistence of severe adverse impacts is at odds with the widespread existence of such commitments. For example, worker fatalities and violations of human rights are among the most frequent adverse impacts found in the RMI analysis. In the face of such evidence, strong company commitments are sometimes not matched by company actions, which clearly need to be more effective.

Companies typically show a lack of systematic attention to monitoring their performance on EESG issues and reporting their performance to other stakeholders, including mining-affected communities. This lack of ‘knowing and showing’ their own performance is most evident at the mine-site level. The vast majority of the 127 sites assessed provide little or no data on key issues of direct interest to local communities, workers and other stakeholders. This includes information on how a site is managing local employment, local procurement, grievance, water use and biodiversity impacts. Without open sharing of such data, it is very difficult for companies to build trust with local communities. Nonetheless a few companies and a few sites are showing the way by putting into practice open data principles to ensure the information reported is easily accessed, understood and used by local communities.

A lack of public reporting is most likely one of the main factors limiting company scores in the Index. Performances might be considerably higher if companies were more transparent about their management of EESG issues. Greater openness would also enable more learning and sharing of good practices.

CEO of the Responsible Mining Foundation, Hélène Piaget, said: “With the launch of the Responsible Mining Index 2018, we aimed to create a strong knowledge base that is open to all, and encourages leading practice and learning across the mining industry. We will continue to engage with all stakeholders to support responsible mining, and encourage constructive dialogue between companies and stakeholders – whether they be communities that neighbour mining operations or large institutional investors.’’ 

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