5.1 Evaluating performance using audits

The internationally accepted definition of an ‘audit’ is based on the international standard ISO 19011:2011 Guidelines for auditing management systems:

An audit is a systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria are fulfilled.

This definition can be used for a range of audits, including environmental audits, social or community relations audits, environmental security audits and health and safety audits.

The term environmental audit covers a wide range of activities based on the formal evaluation of a project’s performance in relation to environmental objectives. The critical elements are that the audit should be objective, systematic and based on defined criteria. Those elements are discussed more broadly in the Environmental audit guidebook (Brown (1993–2014).

A study or survey that does not compare the current situation with agreed audit criteria cannot be called an audit.

Internal audits, which are also called first-party audits, are conducted by or on behalf of the organisation for management review and other internal purposes. In many cases, particularly in smaller organisations, independence can be demonstrated by the auditor’s freedom from responsibility for the activity being audited.

External audits include those generally termed second-party audits and third-party audits. Second-party audits are conducted by parties with an interest in the organisation, such as customers (for example, a power utility that purchases coal from a coalmine), or by consultants. Third-party audits are conducted by external and independent auditing organisations, such as organisations that provide certification of conformity to the requirements of a standard (such as AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004, AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008 or AS/NZS 4801:2001); by consultants on behalf of financial institutions that are considering the provision of loan funds to a mining operation; or by independent consultants conducting a voluntary audit on behalf of an organisation (for example, an audit of a mine commissioned by its parent company).

Share this Page