Advancing responsible sourcing
in mineral value chains

Existing Approaches

Existing approaches to Responsible Sourcing in mineral value chains include regulations, standards, guidance & initiatives and reporting templates. These are listed in alphabetical order here. Relevant approaches are listed, but does not claim to be complete.

For more information on Sector Roadmaps and Flagship Cases, please see  The State-of-play: The International Responsible Sourcing Agenda.

RBA Validated Assessment Program (VAP)

RBA has developed the Validated Assessment Program (VAP), which is a standard for onsite compliance verification and effective, shareable audits. The RBA itself does not conduct the audits but rather sets the standards and relies on approved audit firms. Since 2009, RBA members have completed more than 4,000 VAP onsite compliance audits conducted by independent third-party audit firms that have been approved by the RBA to execute the VAP protocol.

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RMI Downstream Assessment Programme (DAP)

“In 2016 the RMI launched its Downstream Assessment Program to meet the growing demand for validation of sourcing practices of companies in the mineral and metal industries that are not eligible for the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) because they do not meet the definition of a smelter or refiner. The Downstream Assessment Program is minerals-agnostic and therefore inclusive of any metal/mineral within a company’s operations.”

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World Bank Climate-Smart Mining Initiative

The World Bank has set up the Climate-Smart Mining Initiative to address issues such as high energy consumption as well as social and environmental impacts coming from the mining sector. The Initiative focuses on four areas: 1) climate mitigation, 2) climate adaptation, 3) reducing material impacts, and 4) creating marketing opportunities. Part of the Climate-Smart Mining Initiative is also Forest-smart Mining, which aims to prevent ‘deforestation and supporting sustainable land-use practices; repurposing mine sites’ and includes ASM.

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Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM)

TSM is a framework developed by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) that is mandatory for all members in every country they operate. This system provides guidance for companies on how to manage their environmental and social responsibilities. Even though this is a standard developed with a focus on Canadian companies, it is gaining international recognition and has already been adopted by several other organisations, including the Finnish Mining Association (FinnMin), the Argentinean Chamber of Mining (Cámara Argentina de Empresarios Mineros), and the Botswana Chamber of Mines.

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Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI)

The RMI offers companies different tools to improve their due diligence schemes for their supply chains and responsible sourcing of minerals. Among the RMI tools, the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template and the Cobalt Reporting Template provide downstream companies with free, standardised reporting forms to share information about supply chains.

These templates allow information about mineral origins or the refiners and smelters to be shared easily. This transparency also helps to identify smelters and refiners that have not yet been audited in the RMI Responsible Minerals Assurance Process.

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Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI)

The China Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals and Chemical Importers launched the RCI in 2016 with support from the OECD. In 2017, the RCI had 24 members, including Apple, BMW, CATL, Dell, HP, Huawei, Sony, Samsung SDI, LG Chem, Hunan Shanshan, L & F, Tianjin B & M and Huayou Cobalt. The initiative aims at addressing environmental and social risks along the cobalt supply chain, with the elimination of child labour as one of its primary goals. It is currently developing an auditing scheme and considering local development projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains

This Guidance document is the underlying standard for a significant number of mineral certification schemes and audits as well as of several corporate policies addressing mineral sourcing from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (CAHRS). It provides structured and specific risk identification actions for a business to undertake as part of its responsible sourcing (RS) practices and is considered by many to be the de facto standard for most RS due diligence templates. EU directives, including the one on EU Conflict Minerals and EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive, also refer to this document.

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LME Responsible Sourcing Requirements

The LME requires responsible sourcing for all of its listed brands. The LME is introducing responsible sourcing requirements for all metals (by brand) for delivery through the exchange. The first reporting period for firms is set for 2021 with audits (where required) to be carried out by the end of 2023. The LME Responsible Sourcing approach combines two principles – ethical responsibility and commercial interest – to employ a price discovery function that better reflects the value of responsibly sourced metal.

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Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)

The IRMA offers voluntary certification for large-scale mines of all commodity types according to its Standard for Responsible Mining. This set of criteria certifies individual mines, not mining companies, based on requirements for: 1) business integrity, 2) planning for positive legacies, 3) social responsibility and 4) environmental responsibility. The certification audit verifies performance of all types of mining operations, including surface, underground or solution mining, by an independent third party.

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International Standards Organisation


The ISO develops standards in diverse areas, including those addressing quality management, environmental management, health and safety or energy management. The most used standards covering these aspects include:

– ISO 14000 on environmental management standards & guidelines
– ISO 45001 (based on OHSAS 18001 from the International Labour Organisation) on occupational health & safety management systems
– ISO 50001 on corporate energy management
– ISO 26000 on social responsibility to organisations
– ISO 20400 on sustainable procurement, addressing responsible sourcing
– ISO 9001 on Quality Management Systems

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IFC EHS Guidelines (World Bank)

The World Bank Group requires its clients to employ relevant measures that are defined under its Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines, or ‘EHS Guidelines’. This collection of technical reference documents developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) can be applied to all industry sectors in combination with the appropriate Industry Sector Guidelines, as defined by the IFC. The EHS Guidelines for Mining are applicable to all types of mining operations and mineral processing, except for the extraction of construction materials that are covered separately.

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Global Reporting Initiative

The GRI provides a voluntary standard for companies from various sectors along the entire supply chain to achieve sustainable reporting and increase transparency. The standard aims to help corporations comprehend and communicate their influence on sustainability issues, including governance, human rights, social well-being and climate change. This initiative holds as a tenet that maintaining an informed public through transparency can influence corporate decisions and promote positive change.

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Global Battery Alliance

This project by the World Economic Forum is a global collaboration platform that aims to catalyse and accelerate action towards a socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and innovative battery value chain to power the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) has 10 Principles for a sustainable battery value chain, which as of 23 January 2020 had been adopted by 42 organisations.

One of the GBA’s flagships is the ‘Battery Passport’, which they state should ‘offer a digital representation of a battery, conveying information about all applicable environmental, social, governance and lifecycle requirements based on a comprehensive definition of a “sustainable” battery’. It is planned to be fully operational at the end of 2022.

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EU Proposal on Concerning Batteries & Waste Batteries

In December 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a new battery regulation in the EU. It is still awaiting ratification by the European Parliament and the Council. Covering several key policies of the battery value chain, once it comes into force, it will shape the future production and recycling landscape of lithium-ion batteries.

If passed, the Proposal would introduce mandatory due diligence for cobalt, natural graphite, lithium, nickel and other chemical compounds based on one or more of these raw materials. The due diligence processes would be based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and would include assessment of the impacts on social and environmental risk categories.

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EU Extractive Waste Directive

The Extractive Waste Directive 2006/21/EC on the management of waste from extractive industries, ‘promotes preventing or significantly reducing adverse environmental effects…’ The Extractive Waste Directive particularly addresses environmental risks from wastes that impact water, air, soil, plants, animals, and landscapes, as well as risks to human health. The Directive applies to how wastes are managed that were produced through prospecting, extraction including quarrying, treatment, and storage of mineral resources.

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EU End of Life Vehicles Directive

Under the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (2000/53/EC) of the European Union, which is currently under revision, vehicle manufacturers have extended responsibility for the vehicles they produced and for the vehicular components after use. This Directive thereby requires vehicle manufacturers to physically take back their products so that the items may be reused, recycled or remanufactured. Alternatively, manufacturers may delegate their responsibility to a third party.

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EU Collection, Logistics, Pre-treatment, Downstream treatment of WEEE

The purpose of this European Standard for Collection, Logistics, Pre-treatment, Downstream treatment of WEEE (EN 50625-1:2014) is to support institutions to:

  • carry out effective and efficient treatment and disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in order to prevent pollution and reduce emissions;
  • promote increased mechanical recycling;
  • support high quality recycling processes;
  • prevent improper disposal of WEEE and its fractions;
  • ensure human health and safety and environmental protection; and
  • prevent shipments of WEEE to suppliers whose operations do not comply with the requirements of this normative document or comparable specifications.

This EU standard is focused on WEEE but also includes batteries generally.

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European Bank for Reconstruction & Development

General, Guidance & Initiative

The EBRD published a new mining strategy for 2018-2022 in conjunction with their other policies on environmental and social governance, the green economy transition, public information, etc. While mainly providing guidelines for EBRD involvement in mining projects, the strategy also offers guidance for governments on policy development and supports companies when introducing new technologies and good corporate practices.

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Drive Sustainability

Facilitated by CSR Europe, the automobile sector has set up the Drive Sustainability partnership to improve the sustainability of the automotive supply chain. The partnership has drawn up the Automotive Industry Guiding Principles to Enhance Sustainability Performance in the Supply Chain that is accompanied by The Global Automotive Sustainability Practical Guidance. These Principles and Guidance documents define and provide examples for efforts toward ensuring ‘fundamental principles of social and environmental responsibility’ in the areas ‘Business ethics’, ‘Environment’ and ‘Human rights and working conditions’.

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The Copper Mark

The Copper Mark is a framework specifically for the copper industry to support responsible production practices. The goal is to provide independent certification for copper producers. To receive the Copper Mark, 32 criteria must be fulfilled. These criteria were developed by the Responsible Minerals Initiative and cover environmental, social, and governance areas. A company can also qualify for The Copper Mark by implementing equivalent sustainability systems and standards.

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Certified Trading Chains (BGR)

The Certified Trading Chains certification scheme was developed by the German agency Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in 2007 for Rwanda and, in an adapted form, for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The scheme acknowledges the specific challenges pertaining to the artisanal and small-scale mining sector and is hence particularly concerned with feasibility and impact in an artisanal context. It emphasizes process rather than just demanding and certifying certain performance targets.

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Basel Convention

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (‘Basel Convention’) is an international environmental agreement that has established environmentally sound waste management and regulates the control of transboundary hazardous waste shipments. Lithium-ion batteries at their end of life also fall under the Basel Convention, which makes it difficult to ship them around the world, as the process involves many necessary authorisations.

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Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM)

The ARM initiative seeks to promote ‘inclusive and sustainable development’ to legitimise the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector. ARM has set up voluntary standards and certification schemes and promotes the legitimacy of responsible ASM on commodities markets. ARM supports gender equality, diversification, and socially and environmentally responsible production through implementing good-practice techniques and certain technological advances.

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