The BMW luxury car brand has become the first automaker to join an international coalition for responsible mining. Specifically, the BMW Group became the first member of the auto industry to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA): a precedent-setting global certification program for industrial-scale mine sites.
This is not the first time that BMW has been hailed for their drive towards sustainability; in addition to releasing their electrified new MINI Cooper, the company recently announced that they now have more than half a million cars on the roads—and they plan on doubling that number by the end of 2021.
With growing awareness and demand for ecologically and socially-responsible products, jewelers, electronics businesses, automakers, and others have sought assurances that the minerals they purchase are mined responsibly. As a member of IRMA, the BMW Group will be participating in IRMA programs to transform the industrial mining sector towards more responsible practices.
IRMA measures performance of mine sites against their Standard for Responsible Mining, which seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification programs in organic agriculture, responsible forestry, and sustainable fisheries.
“The auto sector is a powerful purchaser of materials that come from mines. We are happy to have the BMW Group join IRMA and we look forward to supporting their commitment to increasing environmental and social responsibility in their supply chains,” said Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA.
The Standard for Responsible Mining reflects the input from over 100 companies, organizations and individuals worldwide. Members in IRMA include a variety of stakeholders in the mining supply chain or those affected by mining, including purchasers of mined materials Microsoft and Tiffany & Co; labor unions IndustriALL Global Union (that represents more than 50 million workers in mining and manufacturing in 140 countries); nonprofit organizations Earthworks and Human Rights Watch; and various mining companies and mining-affected communities.
“Sustainability is an important aspect of our corporate strategy and we are fully aware of our responsibility in mineral value chains,” said Dr. Andreas Wendt, member of the board of management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network.
“For the BMW Group and its stakeholders, it is of the utmost importance that environmental and social standards are adhered to throughout the entire value chain. Raw materials form the basis for every industrial production process and our need will continue to grow accordingly,” underlined Wendt. “We believe that IRMA, with its ambitious certification standard, will contribute to enhancing responsibility in global value chains and improving environmental and social performance.”
The Standard for Responsible Mining is the result of more than ten years of collaboration among groups from the mining industry, organized labor, nonprofit organizations, impacted communities, and businesses. The Standard’s best practice requirements for mining include elements such as health and safety for workers, human rights, community engagement, pollution control, mining in conflict-affected areas, rights of indigenous peoples, transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments, and land reclamation once mining is done.
IRMA emphasizes that The Standard is not simply a pass/fail system, instead focused on transparency, where different levels of performance are recognized and continuous improvement is encouraged, but where certification is still available for those industrial-scale mine sites meeting best practice requirements.