Responsible Sourcing

There are two important aspects of responsible sourcing for ICMM and its members:

  • Internally is about sustainable procurement (SP) – actions undertaken to integrate environmental, social and broader-based cost considerations into the procurement process. Responsibility is shared with suppliers of goods and services to the mining and metals/minerals-processing industry
  • Externally, the concern is with responsible supply – the provision of minerals and metals that meet agreed-upon environmental and social performance standards or criteria. Responsible sourcing programmes (RSPs) can extend beyond the mine to include suppliers to ICMM members. Responsibility is shared with fabricators, original equipment manufacturers, retailers, consumers and the recycling industry

RSPs and SP are part of a broader trend towards extended producer responsibility. This has led to market requirements that enable upstream/midstream companies to demonstrate responsibility, end-use markets to select responsible suppliers, and products and services, and other interested stakeholders  to confidently participate.

ICMM’s Sustainable Development Framework focuses on the most important issues for the industry; Table 1 (p5) sets out a comprehensive set of sustainability principles to follow.

Influential policy and market trends

Influential policy and market trends (p10) that have driven responsible sourcing:

  • Conflict-free initiatives
  • The Cyanide Code
  • Industry sector responsibility initiatives
  • Circular economy
  • Resource
  • Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe
  • Green economy/green growth
  • Product footprint measurement and communication

Responsible sourcing programmes (RSPs)

Responsible sourcing programmes (RSPs) (p12):

  • Provide assurance that organisations meet social and environmental performance standards
  • The mining industry typically features in an RSP as one of the first players in the value chain
  • Industry participants in RSPs focus on responsibly supplying their material to the next actor in the value chain in conjunction with their own stewardship practices, as well as any specific standards in the RSP
  • Purchasers wishing to integrate sustainability into their procurement programmes can use RSPs to ensure materials or products have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner


Characteristics (p14) of good RSPs should include:

  • Programme goals and objectives
  • Processes for engaging stakeholders
  • Scientifically and technically sound standards of performance
  • Programmes designed to enable company participation along the entire length of the supply chain
  • A system to ensure confidence in the Chain of Custody (CoC)/traceability of materials or products
  • Sophisticated SP programmes take account of the technical, environmental and social aspects of the product and life-cycle costs

Business value

The business value (p14) of an SP programme or participating in an RSP include:

  • Identification and management of risks
  • Maintaining/growing market access
  • Reducing or avoiding costs
  • Brand reputation
  • Support organisational sustainability objectives
  • Innovation