MCEP leaves a wealth of information

The Mining Certification Evaluation Project (MCEP) has completed its final report. The MCEP has been a three year Australian research project to investigate the feasibility of third party certification of environmental and social performance of mine sites. As a research activity, it has not attempted to create a working certification scheme, but to establish a knowledge platform for broader international debate and future effort.

In the early 1990s, WWF-Australia developed a proposal for the project and sought support and participation from a range of Australian-based organisations with an interest in the environmental and social performance of mines. The project began in 2002 with WWF-Australia responsible for the overall management of the project and an MCEP Working Group formed to direct and contribute to the work programme.

The credibility and effectiveness of certification schemes in other sectors appear to hinge on three main issues: setting standards, assessment and assurance, and governance. These issues were used to frame the three main research questions for MCEP:

  • Governance What are the key governance issues for a certification scheme in the mining sector?
  • Setting Standards Can principles and criteria for acceptable social and environmental performance by mine sites be developed that have broad agreement from the Working Group and meet stakeholder expectations?
  • Assessment and Assurance Can an audit protocol be:
  • Designed and implemented to test the performance of mine sites against these criteria, in a manner that is practical and cost-effective?
  • Used in a variety of ecological, socio-economic and cultural settings, both within Australia and internationally?

To MCEP’s knowledge, this is the first major attempt to address the issue of a certification program specifically for mine sites. It has attracted the support and participation of a range of stakeholders: the mining companies, Anglo American, BHP Billiton, MPI Mines, Newmont, Placer Dome, Rio Tinto, and WMC Resources and the industry association Minerals Council of Australia; non-government organisations WWF, Oxfam Australia and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union; the government Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, and the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage; researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Centre for the Study of Health and Society at the University of Melbourne; and financial and assurance companies of SAM Sustainable Asset Management and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A Working Group of 17 people brought together perspectives from mining companies, NGOs, government, academia, labour and other agencies. The Working Group has been the key forum for discussion and debate as the project progressed.

While members of the MCEP Working Group are drawn from companies and organisations engaged in or interested in the activities of the minerals industry, their participation has involved the input of their personal expertise rather than an agreed company or organisational perspective. A Contact List for the project received regular updates on the project, and the opportunity to comment on circulated documents.

Project Information and Publications Available To Download

MCEP Reports: Research proposal and results

General project information on the MCEP and Working Group

Supporting documents (SDs) for Final Report: Additional information on mine site field trials for Assessment and Assurance component of research

Public comments received in 2004 on Working Paper 1: Principles and Criteria

Contributions on key issues: Free, prior and informed consent, Labour standards, Indigenous people and mining

Working Group meetings: summary notes of discussions

MCEP updates (The Canary): Regular project newsletters that have been sent to the Contact List

Andrew Rouse [email protected] for more information and/or to be put on the contact list for the project.