MAC and its members are committed to protecting human rights and delivering positive outcomes in the host countries and communities where they operate. In recent years, MAC has undertaken significant actions related to human rights.
In 2017, MAC announced a new addition to TSM aimed at preventing child and forced labour in the global mining supply chain. Despite the fact that Canada has rigorous legal measures in place to prevent child and forced labour, this action was undertaken in light of the TSM’s expansion globally. It responds to the needs of organizations such as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition to ensure and demonstrate that such labour practices have no place in their supply chains. For example, Apple’s recently-updated Supplier Responsibility Standards included TSM in its list of programs to help demonstrate responsible sourcing of minerals and metals, but noted that it did not cover child or forced labour. This prompted MAC to strengthen TSM in this important area.
MAC is also an associate member of ResponsibleSteelTM. MAC will bring its experience with TSM and work with the organization to develop the mining component of a new global standard for a responsible steel supply chain.
MAC has also taken steps to build capacity within the global mining industry. In 2015, MAC published a guide to assist companies in overcoming common implementation challenges with site-level grievance mechanisms – an important community relations tool that helps to ensure that community complaints are heard and addressed effectively by companies. MAC also contributed to the OECD’s guide on stakeholder engagement due diligence, published in February 2017.
MAC and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights
As part of our efforts to continue to demonstrate leadership related to Canadian mining abroad, in March 2017, MAC announced a membership commitment to implement the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs)—a global first for a national mining association.
Created in 2000, the VPs are standards to help extractive sector companies fulfil the obligation to respect human rights while protecting the assets and people at their operations. The Government of Canada identified the VPs as one of six leading standards in Canada’s CSR Strategy for the Extractive Sector alongside MAC’s TSM initiative.
Several MAC members already formally participate in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative (VPI) and several others apply the VPs for their operations abroad.
As members of the Mining Association of Canada, all participating companies that rely upon private or public security forces commit to implementing a human rights and security approach consistent with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) and based on a determination of risk at facilities that they control.
The implementation process is consistent with the requirements of TSM, and seeks to incorporate equivalency measures with processes that our members have already implemented for the VPs through other commitments, such as membership in the VPI, participation in the World Gold Council’s Conflict-Free Gold Standard, and the IFC Performance Standards.
Communities of Practice Forum
As a key part of the implementation process, MAC is supporting a Community of Practice Forum – the Mining Security Working Group – that brings together security practitioners regularly to learn from each other. The VPI has a similar forum in place, which provides significant value to the industry participants, but it is restricted to members of the VPI. MAC’s forum will provide a link to the VPI by bringing together MAC member companies that belong to the VPI with those that do not. MAC also intends to become an observer to the VPI.
MAC members will conduct risk assessments consistent with the VPs and implement responses appropriate for the risks identified. To demonstrate adherence to the membership commitment, MAC members with international mining operations report annually to MAC with a brief description of their approach to risk assessment, how their security-related management systems align with the VPs (if required), the nature of their assurance processes, and a link to any additional corporate public reporting related to the VPs. MAC will include these descriptions in the annual TSM Progress Report.
Application in Canada
MAC has assessed the security-related human rights risks at the domestic level and determined that they are low. As such, Canadian-only operations are not obligated to report annually on their approach to the VPs.
This is based on the nature of the rule of law in Canada, the rigorous training that Canadian police forces receive, and the accreditation mechanisms that are in place for third-party security providers. This assessment was also informed by the Host Country Security Assessment Guide produced by the Centre for Security Development and the Rule of Law, Canada’s ranking on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Barometer, and Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.
Security risks are further mitigated for MAC member facilities in Canada through the implementation of the TSM Crisis Management and Communications Planning Protocol, which contains two relevant criteria.
The Mining Security Working Group (MSWG), a forum for subject matter experts and security practitioners within the extractive industry focused specifically on furthering the goals of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the UN declaration, recently published a resource which provides guidance for developing a Security Management Plan that supports implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and the application of other international best practices.