International Council on Mining and Metals

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Mining-alcans-60px.jpg This article is part of the Mining and Metals project of Spinwatch

The International Council on Mining and Metals is the key lobbying organisation for the mining and metals industry, particularly on matters of sustainability and the environment. It is based in London and represents most of the major mining and metals companies and 30 national and regional mining associations and global commodity associations. It's council is made up of CEO's of most of the major mining and metals companies.[1]


ICMM was formed in 2001 following the perceived threat of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 to the reputation of the industry. This threat led to the formation of the Global Mining Initiative (GMI) in 1999, and spawned industry-friendly research projects projects such as the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project, led by Richard Sandbrook at the International Institute for Environment and Development. In 2001 the International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME) broadened its agenda to incorporate sustainability and reputation concerns and became the ICMM[2].

Mining and Development

The ICMM has been instrumental in promoting mining as a means to poverty alleviation and development in the third world. Their projects Partnerships for Development and the Resource Endowment Initiative have been carried out with UNCTAD and the World Bank aiming 'to deepen understanding of ways to enhance mining’s socio-economic contribution' according to their website. ICMM claim this research was taken 'at arm’s length from ICMM, overseen by an independent advisory group, with two consultancy firms (including Oxford Policy Management) undertaking the bulk of the research'[3].

Their research has promoted 'multi-stakeholder partnerships' (usually business, NGOs and government) which are increasingly used in mining developments. Some of the mining projects developed under the World Bank and Department for International Development's infamous multi-stakeholder initiative Business Partners for Development have attracted critique for their exacerbation of poverty and environmental degradation, and their use of NGOs and a development agenda to give unwanted and damaging projects a legitimate face[4] [5].


The ICMM works with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to develop good environmental practice for mining, including 'biodiversity offsets'- conservation in one area to offset depletion in another[6]. The project produced documents that praised the potential of mines to deliver biodiversity protection and enhancement, against much existing evidence that mining is usually deeply damaging to local ecosystems, as well as having global impact through resource manufacture and disposal. A number of IUCN's presidents are from the industrial sector. 2004 IUCN president Mohammed Valli Moosa, a South African politician was also an Eskom director and is now Deputy Chairman of Anglo Platinum, a subsidiary of Anglo American[7].

The IUCN-ICMM group consisted of Andrea Athanas (IUCN), Assheton Carter (Conservation International), Richard Cellarius (co-chair, Sierra Club), Peter Coombes (from January 2005, Anglo American), John Gardner (co-chair, Alcoa), Kristal Maze (South African National Biodiversity Institute), Andrew Parsons (ICMM), Robert Prairie (Falconbridge), Michael Rae (then at WWF Australia and now at the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices), Dave Richards (Rio Tinto) and Phil Tanner (until December 2004, Anglo American).

The ICMM website makes the bold claim:

Currently, there is a lack of recognition that the major threat to biodiversity depletion in developing countries is poverty, and that economic development stimulated by mining can potentially reduce these pressures and make a positive contribution[8].

This sort of comparison puts the environmental damage caused by slash and burn agriculture or wood gathering for fire in the same category as the effects of climate change, water pollution, large scale toxic emissions and effluents caused by the mining and metals manufacture industries. It also fails to recognise that much poverty has been caused or exacerbated by historical and current resource extraction in a number of countries. The website Mines and Communities documents the social and environmental abuses of mining companies such as Rio Tinto, Vedanta and Alcoa who have become infamous for their disregard of environmental and social rights.


ICMM's website is resplendent with claims of sustainability, accountability and corporate social responsibility. Their website claims:

Our vision is one of leading companies working together and with others to strengthen the contribution of mining, minerals and metals to sustainable development.[9]




Chamber of Mines of South Africa | China International Mining Group | Cobalt Development Institute | Eurometaux | Euromines | Federation of Indian Mineral Industries | International Aluminium Institute | International Copper Association | International Lead Association | International Molybdenum Association | International Wrought Copper Council | International Zinc Association | Japan Mining Industry Association | Minerals Council of Australia | Mining Association of Canada | Mining Industry Associations of Southern Africa | National Mining Association USA | Nickel Institute | Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada | World Coal Institute | World Gold Council[11]


Council Officers in feb 2012

Council Members in feb 2012

Council Officers in 2010

Council Members




  1. ICMM website About Us Accessed 14/07/10
  2. ICMM website Our History Accessed 14/07/10
  3. ICMM website Our Work, Mining: Partnerships for Development Accessed 14/07/10
  4. Richard Whittel, Corporate watch Dodgy development: DfID in India January 28, 2010 Accessed 30/04/10
  5. Das, S. and Padel, F. 2010,'Out of this earth: East India Adivasis and the aluminium cartel' Orient Blackswan
  6. ICMM website Our work, Biodoversity good practice and offsets Accessed 14/07/10
  7. Barry Sergeant. July 8th 2010. Mineweb Anglo American: is the mega-miner running out of ideas? Accessed 21/07/10
  8. ICMM website Our work, Biodoversity good practice and offsets Accessed 14/07/10
  9. ICMM website About Us Accessed 14/07/10
  10. ICMM website Members Accessed 14/07/10
  11. ICMM website Member Associations Accessed 14/07/10
  12. ICMM website ICMM Council Accessed 21/02/2012
  13. ICMM website About Us, ICMM Council Accessed 14/07/10
  14. ICMM website About Us, ICMM Council Accessed 14/07/10
  15. ICMM website [ About Us, Our People] Accessed 14/07/10