Daily report for 27 October 2016

2016 Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) - The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Mining

The third day of the 12th AGM of the IGF discussed the ASM guidance and its implementation, mine tailings management, and issues related to open data and transparency. During the morning, participants heard a report about a new IGF guidance document for governments in managing ASM. Parallel sessions considered ASM zones and mine tailings management. Lunchtime presentations addressed the role of mining in national economies, the impact of automation on the shared-value paradigm, ASM’s role in sustainable development, and community participation in the SDGs and mining. During the afternoon, participants discussed how to enhance stakeholder trust and shared decision making through open data. Member countries also met to finalize the meeting’s draft Communiqué, among other agenda items. The meeting formally closed at 4:58 pm.


This session introduced the ASM Guidance Document, which identifies tools and procedures for users to consider with regard to ASM policy and practices. Nicholas Garrett and Dan Paget, RCS Global, presented this first IGF guidance document. They noted that ASM has vast economic potential, but its significant negative impacts require management. They said the 80-page guidance document seeks to help users identify the process, strategy and feasibility of various policy options, and they welcomed feedback and comments.

During the discussion, participants inquired about the need to differentiate between areas in which governments can have a major influence and those in which actions other than government policy may play a role, and how awareness can be raised to increase the use of environmentally-friendly processes, among other issues. Efforts to enhance learning within regions and between French and English-speaking African countries were also proposed.


Gudrun Franken, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany, opened this session, indicating the ASM zone is a key element of the ASM Guidance.

Klaus Steinmüller, BRS, presented three phases for the government to establish and manage ASM zones: designation, which concerns identification and delineation of ASM zones, estimation of resources and economics of ASM zones, and conceptual environmental, health and safety planning; implementation, which consists of licensing and permitting, elaboration of mines and their closure plans; and long-term management, which includes supervision and support. He highlighted that ASM zones provide a good basis for formalization and improved planning of ASM, but they are costly and time-consuming as they require significant human and financial resources to be allocated by the government, close coordination among all stakeholders, and active participation of ASM miners.

Toni Aubynn, Minerals Commission, Ghana, discussed the Ghanaian government’s experience in ASM management. Recalling colonial management of natural resources in Ghana, he indicated that the government only realized the importance of SSM and passed laws to allow SSM in 1989. Aubynn said the SSM in Ghana is mainly artisanal and the production of the sector is significant. He underscored various challenges for the government in identifying and demarcating suitable areas, providing guidance to miners, and recategorizing ASM.

Glenn Gemerts, Ministry of Natural Resources, Suriname, highlighted the importance and complexity of ASM zones, indicating that the Surinamese government lacked funds to manage ASM zones and thus requested support from IGF. He further called for consideration of other sources of economic development and post-closure management in planning for ASM zones.

David Noko, AngloGold Ashanti, said the mining industry must work with ASM. Drawing on the company’s experience, he discussed different types of actors engaging in ASM, including indigenous people mining historically for cultural celebrations or trade, people seeking livelihoods, and criminal groups engaging in illegal mining. He highlighted the existence of many rules among ASM members, calling on the government and mining companies to understand such rules, engage miners in the decision-making process, surrender some mineral areas and provide technical support. He further recommended that the government formalize the ASM sector, strictly regulate illegal mining, and set up local buying centers for ASM.

During the discussion, participants highlighted challenges with regards to: regulating mines in which both large-scale and small-scale operations are underway; establishing who pays for rehabilitating an ASM operation; assessing the social power structures and informal production processes prior to introducing policy or production changes; and illegal mining and intruders. One panelist suggested that payment for restoration should be a combined effort and should be part of the initial approval process to engage in mining. Taxation was also noted as a revenue source that should help fund the rehabilitation process.

Participants were informed that the IGF Secretariat will send out a call for applications to be part of a two-country pilot project to test the practicality of implementing the recommended guidance.


A session on mine tailings management, facilitated by Ben Chalmers, Mining Association of Canada (MAC), provided a discussion on emerging industry standards for good governance in tailings management.

Kristina Thygesen, GRID Arendal, highlighted the damaging effects of tailing dams that fail, including degraded environments and destroyed livelihoods for people with minimal social and economic safety nets. She noted the potential for capacity building for planning and risk management through the use of spatial data, technological innovation in reusing mine wastes and the need for a global reporting system that can help catch failures before they happen.

Chalmers presented on a mine tailings standard developed by the MAC, which commits member companies to adhere to five indicators: the adoption of a tailings management policy; a functioning tailings management system; accountability of tailings management to the board of directors level; an annual management review process; and an independent operation, maintenance and surveillance process that meets or surpasses industry standards. Upon a tailings dam failure in Mount Polley, British Columbia in 2014, he noted that the MAC standard took on its own independent review to ensure going forward that: all new mines of member companies achieve at least an “A” level; both internal and external audits are conducted; guidance is developed to implement independent review mechanisms, and community engagement is prioritized.

Robert Morgan, Anglo American, emphasized that building trust between governments and communities is key for tailings dam management. He stressed that industry-level performance standards for mine tailings management requires: “the right people with the right skills in the right roles”; independent technical reviews; mandatory internal standards; risk management programmes to be formally monitored and adhered to; and the adoption of technological innovation in dam construction and monitoring. In discussion, panelists noted the potential for consolidating regulatory standards in avoiding fragmentation, questioned the degree of independence in review processes, and stressed greater community outreach to secure tailing site facilities.


Facilitator Marisol Estrella, UNEP, opened the session focusing on SDGs 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals), indicating that open and reliable data can increase transparency of the extractives industry, build trust among different stakeholders, and achieve better governance.

Peter Bangura, National Minerals Agency of Sierra Leone, presented the Mining Cadastre & Administration System (MCAS) launched in 2010 by the government of Sierra Leone, indicating that the MCAS not only provides a public administration system for license application and management, but also an online repository of open data to be communicated with citizens and stakeholders. He further noted the importance of political will in the implementation of this system, and identified mapping functionality limitations and internet accessibility as two main challenges to engage citizens.

Tom Mills, Adam Smith International, introduced a research project that combines interviews with government officials in Africa and Asia with an online survey on how the use of open data can improve governance. He said the project shows six important elements that can increase open data and transparency: contextualizing data; increasing exchange among people having similar experiences; improving technological infrastructure; using meta-data; identifying boundaries of knowledge; and increasing joint access across datasets and initiatives. In response to questions from the panel on trust among stakeholders and data credibility, Mills indicated that face-to-face exchange, leadership, and the use of meta-data can improve trust and highlighted the importance of partnerships and dialogues among stakeholders. ​

Louis Maréchal, OECD, presented on an OECD standard providing recommendations to the mining sector to determine if their business activities contribute to conflict financing and human rights violations. He stressed that companies should build credible management systems to identify risks within their supply chains; mitigate such risks; ensure a third party independent audit; and request that companies publicly report risks identified in their supply chains. In relation to methods to democratize the collection of data, he highlighted the importance of ground-truthing data collection through multi-stakeholder engagement.

David Jensen, UNEP, noted the plethora of data available that remains fragmented and marred by a lack of reliability and trust. He described UNEP’s “Mapping and Assessing of the Performance of Extractive Industries” (MAP-X) initiative, which provides a single online website aggregating social, economic and environmental data streams to be available to all stakeholders through a suite of tools to geospatially visualize and contextualize multiple datasets. He underscored the importance of a data quality framework built into the MAP-X initiative that eliminates poor quality data from the outset. He also said that MAP-X is not only a tool for data collection but also a process for allowing stakeholders to engage with the data. In the ensuing discussion, participants emphasized inter alia: the business case for ensuring credible and reliable data, the added-value of new data visualization techniques; and obstacles for data-sharing and collaboration.


The IGF member countries met in the afternoon to consider reports on: the Secretariat’s planning and priorities for 2017; the next steps for the Strategy Task Force Report; the IGF Guidance for Governments on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting; and proposed guidance document topics. IGF members also reviewed a draft Communiqué regarding the meeting’s proceedings.

The Secretariat indicated that it will attend several regional events in 2017, and is planning to organize regional conferences in Latin America and Asia-Pacific in 2018. The Secretariat will also conduct follow-up and capacity building related to ongoing MPF assessments and initiate new MPF assessments. Training and capacity-building programmes based on identified needs and communication activities were noted as other Secretariat activities during the coming year.

One member country indicated that a governance review will be undertaken on the IGF, to examine and update its rules of procedure among other issues, and invited members wishing to participate in the review to let the Secretariat know.

Members were requested to send their comments on the Strategy Task Force Report to the Secretariat by the end of November 2016.

Members were informed about planning for work related to maximizing the revenues due to governments for mining activities, and were told that the work plan will be designed to coordinate with the consideration of related issues by the UN, OECD, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and others. The outputs of the other organizations will be evaluated for whether they are sufficiently specific to the needs of the mining sector and developing countries. If they are not, a mining sector supplement will be developed.

One member stressed the importance of guidance on how to evaluate proposals for revenue sharing.

During the review of the draft Communiqué, members suggested highlighting the links between mining challenges and SDGs 5 (gender equality) and 13 (climate change), in addition to the references to SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the Goals). Members also suggested including the names of countries who will be undertaking MPF assessments, and thanking IISD for its work as the Secretariat along with information on its work plan.


In the first hour of the lunchtime session, a new report was launched on the role of mining in national economies, hosted by the ICMM. Another report on the impact of automation on the shared-value paradigm was also launched and presented by IISD.

During the second hour, presentations were made on “Unlocking ASM’s sustainable development potential through dialogues,” by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and “Community Participation in the SDGs and Mining: Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance,” by Minerals and Energy for Development Alliance (MEfDA).


Yanchun Zhang, UNCTAD, addressed the final session of the 12th AGM, highlighting the value and importance of the IGF as a partnership for all stakeholders on mining issues.

She also said: the 2030 Agenda provides a road map to ensure dignity and a better life for all; the mining sector creates challenges and strategies for achieving the SDGs; and further consideration should be given to ASM. She closed by noting that UNCTAD looks forward to welcoming the IGF back to Geneva in late 2017.

Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, IISD, on behalf of IISD and the IGF Secretariat, welcomed the IGF’s newest member, Liberia, and stressed the value of the meeting’s examination of the mining sector through the lens of the SDGs. She thanked UNCTAD for hosting the meeting and looked forward to working with the IGF’s members and partners to implement the SDGs in the coming year.

Alexander Medina, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Dominican Republic, noted the added-value of understanding mining’s role in achieving the SDGs and emphasized the importance of responsibility to communities in ensuring public acceptance of the mining sector.

IGF Executive Committee Chair Gemerts thanked UNCTAD, IISD, WEF and participants for making the AGM possible and officially closed the meeting at 4:58 pm.