Assessing the IFC’s Environmental, Health and Safety guidelines for large-scale mining projects

Link: Undermining communities and the Environment: A review of the International Finance Corporation’s Environmental, Health, and Safety guidelines for mining.

This report by the Centre for Science in Public Participation; Oxfam International; WWF International assesses the International Financial Corporation’s Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) guidelines for large-scale mining projects.

According to Wikipedia, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) promotes sustainable private sector investment in developing countries as a way to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives.

IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is head-quartered in Washington, DC. It shares the primary objective of all World Bank Group institutions: to improve the quality of the lives of people in its developing member countries.

Established in 1956, IFC is the largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for private sector projects in the developing world. It promotes sustainable private sector development primarily by:

  • Financing private sector projects located in the developing world.
  • Helping private companies in the developing world mobilize financing in international financial markets.
  • Providing advice and technical assistance to businesses and governments.

This review shows how these EHS guidelines have significant gaps and omissions, including the failure to specify the performance levels or quantitative measures necessary to protect local communities and environments impacted by these projects. In some cases the guidelines do not even meet the mining industry’s existing “best practice” standards.

The IFC”s EHS guidelines should clearly state that mining projects require minimum standard based on the reports recommendations in the following areas:

  • water conservation and quality
  • wastes
  • land use and biodiversity
  • air quality
  • energy
  • geotechnical safety
  • tailings dam safety
  • land subsidence
  • emergency preparedness and response
  • mine closure and post-closure

The report also highlights a lack of ongoing monitoring and evaluation following the completion of the project in order to evaluation the impact of mining activities on the environment, health and livelihoods.

It also suggests that in the assessment phase, potential impacts should be made available to the communities that will be affected and should have access to resources for technical resources and supporting information.

The report urges the IFC to rethink its support for the mining sector and commit immediately to:

  • Redrafting the mining sector guidelines with the involvement of independent experts and civil society, and
  • Reporting on the positive and negative impacts of each of its mining investments on a project-specific basis.


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