International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Efficiency (1 hits),

Full Submission

1. Overview

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is a collaborative of 21 of the largest mining and metals companies in the world. We also link 32 affiliated industry associations through which we can potentially reach an additional 1,500 companies. ICMM was created in the lead up to Rio + 10 as a catalyst for improving environmental and social performance for its members, thus enhancing mining and metals? contribution to sustainable development. ICMM seeks to create value for shareholders while simultaneously creating value for host communities and countries.

The purpose of this submission is to address the issue of mining and metals in the green economy. We argue that mining and metals are fundamental to sustainable development in the green economy ? both through the mining and refining processes and through innovative uses.

Mining and metals are critical to society ? today and in the future. Their contribution to the Millennium Development Goals is but one indication of this indispensable role. To achieve this end, implications must be carefully managed and specific steps must be taken by all concerned to ensure an equitable distribution of costs, benefits, risks and responsibilities. This can be done. We believe that it is in fully considering all aspects of this distribution - throughout the life cycles and complex value chains that we are tied to ? that mining and metals? full contribution can be understood and realized. This realization is at the heart of the green economy.

2. Proposed text for the Rio+20 zero draft

Mining and metals in a green economy

Mining of minerals and production of metals are fundamental to sustainable development in the green economy ? through the contribution of the industry itself and through innovative uses of the metals and minerals that are produced. As with any human activity, there are significant social, environmental and economic implications ? positive and negative ? at each step along the value chain. These can be managed effectively and efficiently to provide a foundation for environmentally and socially responsible economic development which is sustainable and which contributes to meeting the Millennium Development Goals agreed to in 2000.

A key success factor is ensuring that the benefits, costs, risks and responsibilities ? local, regional, national and international ? are all recognized, effectively managed and equitably distributed using a time horizon that spans the full project and product life cycles. This is only possible through public policies, instruments, and action that are designed and implemented to: (1) ensure that the interests and values of host communities and countries and project operators are considered; and (2) facilitate collaboration and partnerships between the many stakeholders important to resolving the complex issues that arise ? no single party can deliver sustainable outcomes working in isolation. Important interests include governments, intergovernmental organisations, mining and metals companies (junior to major), investors, labour, service providers and associations, civil society groups, public institutions, mining affected communities, Indigenous peoples and their organizations, customers, end users, suppliers and academia.

A second key success factor is the effective and efficient use of natural resources and the materials derived from them throughout their lifecycles ? in a way that maximizes their contribution to sustainable development over the long term. This will require careful development and implementation of integrated energy and materials management policy frameworks.

3. Mining and metals in a green economy

Mining and metals and sustainable development

Mining and metals lie at the very foundation of society. Their use permeates all aspects of life and it is for this reason that the 2002 Plan of Implementation of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development recognized that ?Mining, minerals and metals are important to the economic and social development of many countries. Minerals are essential for modern living?.

Over the last two decades the mining and metals industry has been particularly active in innovative, sustainability-related policies and practices because:

? the potential implications ? both positive and negative ? of mining activities and the minerals and metals that result are significant, for people, for their economies for the environment;

? many interests are touched by mining and metals;

? the role of many of these interests in decision-making is growing (e.g., communities, consumers and indigenous people);

? the nature of contemporary communications systems has brought the often dramatic nature of mining operations into the public eye;

? industry, governments, civil society organizations, and the public, in general, have taken great interest in ensuring that mining and its products make a net positive contribution over the long term; and

? the importance of minerals and metals to meeting society?s needs.

The above factors also underscore the importance of communicating the full life cycle sustainable consumption and production processes to the general public. Without this understanding, the linkage between everyday uses of products, their origins, and the true costs of bringing them from that origin to use, is lost.

The Activities of Mining and metals Production

The nature of mining and metal production activities sets them apart from all other human activities. Mines are situated where natural geological deposits dictate. There is little to no choice in location. Conditions and resulting mine design (technical, social, environmental) will vary dramatically between sites. Because of the hugely varying nature of ores, the processing technologies required to make these materials available for use will also vary from site to site.

The mine project life cycle comprises a series of steps including exploration, design and construction, operation, closure and post closure. This life cycle varies in length from a few to many decades, sometimes stretching to centuries. Thus, the connection to people and their communities reaches across generations and the relationships developed between mines and their host communities are long-term.

Each phase of the mine project life cycle described above brings different environmental, economic and social challenges and opportunities. Sometimes, the national economic benefits can seem out of proportion relative to local level benefits where the immediate disruptions are most likely to be felt. The full spectrum of implications must be carefully managed and all of the costs, benefits, risks and responsibilities shared in an equitable manner.

Poor management can bring serious social disruption, economic decline and environmental degradation.

Effective management of extractive resources requires long time horizons and a need for multiple interests to be involved in the governance and development of natural resources. However, managed effectively and efficiently, the opportunity to contribute to societal development is significant.

The mining industry often serves both as a foundation and as a catalyst for economic and social development. It is often the first to make significant inward investment in low income countries, placing it in a position to catalyze a positive contribution at a critical stage in the host nation?s economic and social development. Working in partnership, mining and metals operations can spark local economic activity through other service oriented businesses and industries. Nurtured effectively, these can strengthen and diversify, leading to benefits that exist long after the original mining activities cease.

In resource rich parts of the world and with effective systems of private and public governance in place, mining and metals production can provide a significant boost to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Products and innovative uses

Mined ores and minerals require processing into a usable form. The intrinsic properties of the resulting minerals and metals (for example, electrical conductivity, recyclability, and durability) are indispensable for meeting essential societal needs in an efficient way.

There are three fundamental categories of materials in the world: metals and minerals; fibre-based from bio-mass; and synthetics from petroleum products. Of these, only metals and minerals have a proven capacity for continuous re-cycling (though we are far from achieving optimum Efficiency in this matter). This recycling capacity and the energy savings that it represents are powerful technical reasons why metals and minerals have a key role to play in the green economy.

Much of the ?green economy? concept is based on a quest for greater efficiencies in energy and resource production and use. A key is the development of alternative energy sources. Many metals are crucial to innovations in the development of this technology (e.g. the use of platinum in automotive catalytic converters, or metallurgical coal in wind turbines or copper for more efficient electrical motors). Most innovations in these fields are only possible with the use of metals.

Two Decades of Progress in the Mining and Metals Industry

Since the 1992 Earth Summit, practices in the mining and metals industry have evolved significantly. The creation of ICMM as a change agent specifically tasked with strengthening environmental and social performance and enhancing mining and metals? contribution to sustainable development is in itself a significant indicator.

The evolution of SD reporting in the industry provides another indicator. Prior to the 1980s, no companies reported out on non-economic performance indicators. In the mid-1980s, state-of-environment reporting; in the 1990s corporate sustainability reporting followed. ICMM?s sustainable development principles were approved in 2003; a Metal Mining Sector Supplement (MMSS) was jointly developed with the Gobal Reporting Initiative during 2005 - 2009. ICMM members reported publically for the first time in 2009. Now, over 100 mining and metals companies are annually reporting following the MMSS. Starting with the early treatment of environmental and health and safety topics, they now include such issues as equity, social justice and human rights.

This evolution marks a step change not only in reporting and assurance, but also in the commitment to transparency and accountability, a commitment that is underlined by ICMM?s early and strong support for and engagement with the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.

The following initiatives all reflect mining?s commitment to engage actively and openly in addressing many of today?s most pressing sustainable development-related issues. It is unlikely that many of these would have occurred in the past.

? good practice for addressing mining and biodiversity (with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2006),

? good practice for materials stewardship (2006)

? metals environmental risk assessment guidance (MERAG, 2007)

? health risk assessment guidelines for metals (HERAG, 2007)

? integrated treatment for addressing mine closure (2008)

? managing HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (with the World Health Organization in 2008)

? effective community development (with the World Bank, 2009)

? effective health impact assessment (2010)

? intense engagement with John Ruggie as Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights through to his final report published in 2010

? ICMM?s publication of guidance on building effective relationships with indigenous people (2010)

? International Network for Acid Prevention (INAP) published its Global Acid Rock Drainage (GARD) Guide in 2010

? Initiation of ICMM?s climate change program, publication of its principled approach to developing climate change policy

? establishing a formula for avoiding the resource curse through building effective partnerships for development (2005 - 2011)

4. Further Input to Rio + 20

Rio +20 offers an exciting opportunity for new forms of collaboration, particularly between the private sector and multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Expectations have been set that the private sector will be the largest funding source for concrete actions to achieve sustainable development. If this is to be achieved, effective mechanism to include the private sector in policy discussions as a full partner must be established. To date, that has not happened.

We are not able to comment at this time on such important topics as: (1) concrete desired outcomes of Rio + 20 and the structure of the Outcome Document; (2) a specific framework for action, renewed SD Goals; (3) closing the implementation gap; and (4) specific implementation tools. We believe that these should be designed collaboratively through the Rio + 20 process and we look forward to playing our part in doing so over the next eight months and beyond

Appendix 1: The International Council on Mining and Metals


ICMM is a collaborative of 21 companies that together reflect about one-third of the formal mining industry. We also serve as an umbrella for some 32 affiliated industry associations through which we can significantly increase our reach to other companies across the industry. Our member companies have about 800 operations in over 65 countries and employ about 800,000 of 2.5 million in the formal mining sector.


ICMM?s vision is one of leading companies working together and with others to strengthen the contribution of mining and metals to sustainable development. The clear implication of this vision is to create value for shareholders while simultaneously creating value for host communities and countries. We serve as a change agent to catalyze improved environmental and social performance for its members, strengthening mining and metals? contribution to sustainable development.


ICMM was created in the lead up to the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. A decade earlier, at the time of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the mining and metals industry was in the earliest stages of applying sustainable development ideas. A predecessor organization to ICMM ? the International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME) ? had been created in 1991 in response to the rise of contemporary environmental concerns and as a vehicle for the mining and metals industry to participate in the expanding international discussion about environmental issues.

The second half of the 1990s saw a precipitous drop in commodity prices while public concern over practices in the mining industry reached an unprecedented high.

Late in the 1990s, a small group of mining industry leaders initiated an innovative ?Global Mining Initiative (GMI)? to review issues facing the industry and develop an action plan for aligning mining and metals industry with the newly emerging ideas of sustainable development. At the core of this initiative was an unprecedented multi-stakeholder international public debate about how mining and metals could contribute better to the transition to a more sustainable future. The Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project not only identified the challenges but also identified the roles that each of the major stakeholder groups should play.?

Running from 2000 through 2002 and led by the London-based NGO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), MMSD involved some 50,000 people across the world from all parts of society. ICMM (administratively born of the earlier ICME) was established in 2001 as the delivery mechanism for the action plan that was generated through MMSD. The work allowed the industry to make an active and well informed contribution to the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The fact of ICMM?s existence may represent in itself the most significant single indicator of change in mining, metals and sustainability during the last 20 year period.

Table 1: ICMM member companies grouped by head office location

Please reference full submission for Table 1

Table 2: ICMM member associations

Please reference full submission for Table 2
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