Aimee Boulanger - What is “Responsible Mining” and Who Decides?
Updated: May 12
Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)
Large scale mining provides materials used everyday in industrialized society – in our cars, electronics, jewelry, buildings, household products and more. Many of these materials are in increasing demand to support energy transition plans, components of batteries and also the infrastructure for wind and solar technologies. There is a greater awareness that goods and services should to be evaluated for a full life cycle of impacts and that the raw material extraction point is a critical point in that supply chain. Industrial-scale mining creates significant impacts, even as the materials support critical needs. These impacts include harm to water resources, indigenous people’s rights, worker health and safety, biodiversity, longterm landscape use – each at levels which can reach human rights abuses. In a climate-stressed world, the impacts of mining must be addressed as more than a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing floods, expanding draughts, fragile marine ecosystems, dwindling freshwater supplies, threatened species and communities under related stress need mining to operate in a fundamentally more responsible manner. And mining companies need a market which values their investment in best practices across social and environmental issues. The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) has established, through more than a decade of work, the globe’s most comprehensive standard describing best practices for responsible mining, and an independent third party way to measure achievement against that standard. IRMA is the only global mining standard for large scale mines which is equitably led by civil society working alongside the private sector and covers all mined materials (except energy fuels). IRMA’s Executive Director Aimee Boulanger will share the basics on how IRMA works and the opportunity offered by mines being audited, purchasers making demand materials from IRMA-audited mines, and communities and labor unions engaging with mines to drive improvement.
Aimee Boulanger serves as Executive Director for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA). IRMA hosts the Standard for Responsible Mining, the shared definition of best practices in “responsible mining”, developed over decade by diverse stakeholders. The Standard is the globe’s most comprehensive and rigorous definition of environmental and social responsibility in mining, and yet allows mines at any level of current performance to engage and show improvement over time. IRMA combines the Standard with an independent third party verification system measuring environmental and social performance of industrial scale mines against that Standard. IRMA is governed equitably by nonprofit NGOs, labor organizations, mining affected communities working alongside private sector mining companies and purchasers of mined materials. Aimee has worked on mining issues for 25 years, with substantial experience in directly affected communities. In IRMA, her role is to guide an organization fully accountable to multistakeholder leadership -- creating market value for more responsible business practices while ensuring credibility and accountability to all stakeholders. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies and Politics from Mount Holyoke College and has served IRMA’s leadership since 2011.
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