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 Updated guidance to help mining companies improve how human rights impacts are managed across the globe has been published by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). 

ICMM members include the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, Glencore, Gold Fields, Sibanye-Stillwater and South32.   

Helping mining companies to better integrate human rights into existing risk management approaches is the aim of ICMM’s human rights due diligence guidance.

Included is having robust policies and processes in place to assess actual and potential human rights impacts, act upon the findings, track responses, and transparently communicate how impacts have been addressed. 

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” ICMM president and CEO Rohitesh Dhawan stated in a release to Mining Weekly.

Since the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), there has been an undoubted improvement in how companies are managing human rights due diligence.

“But violations have occurred with unacceptable and heart-breaking impacts,” said Dhawan.

With the demand for metals and minerals critical to the energy transition set to increase dramatically, having strong human rights policies and processes in place is seen as being essential in making that transition just and fair. 

“Change begins with us, but we won’t see quick enough progress if we work alone. To ensure fundamental rights and freedoms are respected, we are committed to working with governments, communities, and civil society to drive the change needed. This Guidance is an important resource for the whole industry, no matter the size or location of your company,”  Dhawan added.

Mining companies can have significant positive and negative impacts on the people who live and work close to operations. In 2018, ICMM set an example for other industries by requiring member companies to implement the UNGPs, including in particular human rights due diligence processes,” said business and human rights legal specialist Jonathan Drimmer.

“Since then, there have been rapid advances in international, regional and domestic human rights regulations, and companies will need to evolve and enhance their processes to meet these developments, marrying legal compliance with the respect for rightsholders called for by the UNGPs. I welcome the efforts made by ICMM to support the mining industry in rising to meet these challenges, and the updated guidance will be a useful resource for practitioners applying human rights due diligence processes,” added Drimmer.

ICMM first published guidance on the topic in 2012 to coincide with the United Nations Human Rights Council endorsing the UNGPs, and in 2018, ICMM became the first industry body to commit to upholding the UNGPs.

The 2023 updated Guidance responds directly to ongoing challenges of integrating the UNGPs across organisations. It also provides an overview of leading practice and regulation which has emerged in the last decade.