1.1 Scope and background

This handbook addresses the theme of evaluating performance through monitoring and auditing, which are key elements in the Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry. The aims of the program are to identify the key issues affecting sustainable development in the mining industry and provide information and case studies that illustrate how to establish a more sustainable basis for the industry.

In updating the 2009 edition of this handbook, the authors were instructed to focus on those dimensions of practice where significant change and innovation had occurred. Therefore, the more detailed sections reflect the additional and updated information that was added to this 2016 edition. The authors were also asked to focus on ensuring that the handbook was more operational and practical. To that end, links to manuals and operational guidelines have been included wherever possible.

The handbook addresses the ongoing assessment of impacts at all stages of a resource project, from pre-feasibility through planning, environmental and social impact assessment, development, operation, rehabilitation, decommissioning and closure.

While abandoned mines demonstrate the antithesis of leading practice in many ways, it is intended that managers of abandoned mines will use the information in this and the other program handbooks as one of several resources to plan and implement monitoring and auditing as part of an overall rehabilitation program to transform a site from ‘negative legacy’ to ‘positive inheritance’ (IUCN–ICMM 2008). This handbook will also support implementation of the Strategic Framework for Managing Abandoned Mines in the Minerals Industry (MCMPR–MCA 2010).

Leading practice companies seek to manage financial and sovereign risk by identifying and engaging all stakeholders so that outcomes are expressed not just as the financial bottom line but rather as a triple bottom line that includes positive financial, social and environmental outcomes for all stakeholders. While much of this handbook focuses on environmental management, social and economic aspects are also addressed because they too are integral components of performance within a sustainable development framework.

Leading practice organisations are now incorporating social considerations into all aspects of their performance evaluation. This takes two forms, both of which are addressed in this handbook: monitoring and reporting local and regional socioeconomic adjustment that may occur as a consequence of mining activity; and engaging the community in environmental monitoring. Leading practice examples of both approaches are inclusive of communities at each stage of the monitoring process from participation in program design through to data collection and reporting.

Mining companies that are recognised for implementing leading practice sustainable development understand that their social licence to operate is largely influenced by their performance in these areas, and they understand the business case for good performance and continuous improvement. They also recognise that assessing and achieving good outcomes is not limited to the immediate and surrounding environment and communities affected by operations, but must cover a larger temporal and spatial scale by taking into account all relevant site, local, regional, national and even international aspects.

The primary audience for this handbook is management at the operational level, which is the level responsible for implementing leading practice at mining operations and ensuring that monitoring and auditing are conducted to evaluate and improve performance. The handbook is also relevant to environmental officers; mining consultants; governments and regulators; non-government organisations; (NGOs)’ neighbouring and mine communities; and students. It also provides a valuable reference on benchmarking practices and training for the emerging mining industry in developing countries.

By applying the principles outlined in this and other related handbooks, all users are encouraged to work together in partnership and take up the challenge to continually improve the mining industry’s standards of monitoring and auditing, as part of its approach to sustainable development.

What is ‘leading practice’?

In the context used in this series of handbooks, leading practice is defined as ‘the best available current practice promoting sustainable development’; that is, proven practices or procedures currently being implemented by mining companies which go beyond the minimum legislative requirements, and which are endorsed by stakeholders. Leading practice improves over time to apply new knowledge and standards to existing and new situations while also meeting changing community expectations.

Monitoring and auditing together enable companies, governments and stakeholders to evaluate the performance of the industry and regulatory frameworks and guide the improvements that demonstrate leading practices.

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