The Copper MarkTM is an example of an initiative that was recently launched in mid-2019 as a driver in the race towards zero emissions copper production. Initiated by the International Copper Association (ICA), The Copper MarkTM is an assurance system that aims towards a beneficial and sustainable development for the global copper production operations, which will also reap social and environmental benefits for all parties involved in the supply chain. By acting as a communication tool between stakeholders, The Copper MarkTM will allow responsibly produced copper to be recognised by investors and copper consumers worldwide and can therefore directly contribute to the goal of a sustainable production of copper. This will be done in the form of a mechanism that guarantees that the copper production operations are responsible, in terms of managing their environmental, social, and governance risks within their procedures.1
The newly established system was inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is a universally adopted framework for sustainable development that addresses global challenges with regards to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice, with a target to complete all of its 17 goals by 2030. 2 In the first phase of development, The Copper MarkTM will mainly contribute towards SDG 12 titled “Responsible Consumption and Production”3 through the assurance process created by this initiative.
The process, named The Copper MarkTM Assurance Process, will assess the performance of upstream companies in the supply chain (copper mines, smelters, and refiners) against standards defined by a responsible production criteria, which follows the Risk Readiness Assessment (RRA) created by the Responsible Minerals Initiative.4 In essence, the RRA covers 32 risk areas including environmental, social, and governance topics that can be used as pointers to assess the performance of the manufacturing side of the copper supply chain.
Applications for The Copper MarkTM have commenced in early 2020, whereby copper mines, smelters, and refiners apply online and provide suitable evidence of their practices which will be checked against the criteria. The process will then continue as outlined in Figure 1, where the current scope of the program is set to be completed within two years from the start of the process.
The vision of The Copper MarkTM beyond 2022 aims for further contributions to the UN SDGs through additional programs to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development