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The New "GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024" and the Future of Sustainable Mining

A colossal yellow mining truck loaded with rocks against a dark quarry backdrop.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has unveiled a groundbreaking framework, 'GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024,' setting a new precedent for transparency and accountability in the mining industry.


This first-of-its-kind standard aims to reconcile the sector's indispensable role in supplying critical minerals for our modern world with its potential to inflict significant harm on the environment, communities, and workers. It also brings unprecedented transparency and accountability to a sector that sits at the crossroads of economic necessity and environmental stewardship.


By providing a common framework for reporting, the GRI Mining Standard seeks to illuminate the dual nature of mining: its indispensable role in supplying essential minerals for modern societies and its potential for significant environmental and social impacts.


The essence of GRI 14 lies in its multi-faceted approach, addressing 25 topics deemed likely material for companies in the mining sector. It spans critical areas such as emissions, waste, human rights, land and resource rights, climate change, biodiversity, anti-corruption, and community engagement.


Notably, it brings new focus to areas previously underrepresented in sustainability reporting within the mining context, including tailings management, artisanal and small-scale mining, and operations in conflict zones.


Developed through a robust multi-stakeholder process, the standard reflects a broad consensus on the need for enhanced site-level transparency. This granularity allows stakeholders to assess impacts and risks with a precision that was previously difficult to achieve, considering the variability across locations and specific minerals.


The inclusion of perspectives from businesses, civil society, investors, labor groups, and mediating institutions in the standard's development underscores its credibility and relevance across the spectrum of mining sector stakeholders.


The Mining Standard's introduction comes at a critical juncture, as the world grapples with the dual imperatives of accelerating towards a low-carbon future and ensuring the responsible extraction and supply of the minerals that underpin this transition.


Mining companies are now equipped with a guideline that not only aids in meeting growing disclosure and due diligence demands from policymakers, regulators, and the market but also enhances their ability to communicate with stakeholders on vital sustainability issues.


Statements from leaders of various organizations highlight the standard's significance. Carol Adams, Chair of GRI’s Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), emphasizes the complex position of mining within sustainability frameworks, noting its essential role in the low-carbon transition juxtaposed against its potential for adverse impacts.


Mark Robinson of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), K.C. Michaels from the International Energy Agency (IEA), and Suneeta Kaimal of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) commend the standard for promoting transparency, accountability, and stakeholder engagement, all of which are crucial for a sustainable and equitable future.


The GRI Mining Standard aligns with existing responsible mining guidance and relevant standards, incorporating expert inputs from a wide array of organizations, including EITI, IRMA, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), and others. This harmonization ensures that reporting is not only robust and comparable but also practical for companies striving to adhere to multiple frameworks.


In essence, GRI 14 represents a milestone in the quest for sustainable mining practices. It acknowledges the sector's integral role in society while holding it accountable for its environmental and social impacts. As companies begin to report under this new standard, the hope is that it will foster greater dialogue, trust, and collaboration among mining companies, communities, investors, and regulators, driving the sector towards more sustainable and responsible practices.


 

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