ResponsibleSteel™ is Kicking off the Benchmarking of Mine Level Verification Programmes

Mining is a key supplier of materials to the steel sector and part of ResponsibleSteel’s mission is to ensure that certified steel sites source mined materials in a responsible manner. We aim to achieve this by recognising mine sites that demonstrate high levels of environmental, social and governance performance according to credible verification programmes. Building on joint work by ResponsibleSteel together with our associate members the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) and Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining programme (TSM), we are now launching the development of a methodology to benchmark mine site verification programmes. Recognition by ResponsibleSteel will help raise the market profile and drive demand for credible mine site verification programmes.

The ResponsibleSteel certification programme is being developed to cover the entire steel supply chain from mine site or scrap collector through to the steel end user (e.g. the car, construction or white goods manufacturing company).  The ResponsibleSteel Standard (version 1-0) can be applied directly at sites where raw materials are processed, and at steel making and steel processing sites.    Upstream supply chain activities, such as mining or the collection of scrap, will be covered wherever possible through the recognition of existing programmes that set a similarly ambitious standard and run an equally robust assurance programme to ResponsibleSteel’s.

ResponsibleSteel has been working with IRMA and TSM to determine how ResponsibleSteel could use the outputs of their respective mine level verification programmes as the basis for such recognition.  IRMA, TSM and ResponsibleSteel are also working with the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), with the support of the ISEAL Innovations Fund which is resourced through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), on the application of a ‘joint audit protocol’ to facilitate recognition across different programmes.

These efforts are now extended and ResponsibleSteel will soon present draft recognition criteria and a proposed assessment methodology to its members and stakeholders for feedback.  Recognition of credible verification programmes is expected to include an assessment of:

  • the standard(s) against which sites supplying material are assessed, for example mine site standards, or processing site standards, including consideration of the extent to which the standard addresses and aligns with the issues covered by the ResponsibleSteel principles and criteria;
  • the system for determining whether the requirements of the standard have been met (verification), including consideration of the systems for resolving complaints or disputes in relation to such assessments;
  • the extent to which the system and its outputs are transparent and accessible to stakeholders, and claims are clear and credible;
  • the potential for multiple stakeholders to participate in the programme’s governance;
  • commitment to ResponsibleSteel’s mission and vision, for example through ResponsibleSteel associate membership.

IRMA, TSM, International Tin Association (ITA) and Bettercoal have written to indicate that as soon as the criteria and process for ResponsibleSteel recognition have been finalised they will apply for formal assessment. The assessment methodology will be objective and transparent, and recognition is not guaranteed.

ResponsibleSteel welcomes expressions of interest from any additional programmes interested in applying for assessment.

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