Landmark 'no-go' pledge from leading mining companies

International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) announcement:

Corporate membership of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) - comprised of 15 of the world's largest mining and metal producing companies has signed an undertaking to recognise existing World Heritage properties as 'no-go' areas.

The announcement results from a dialogue process with IUCN-The World Conservation Union started earlier this year. It includes an undertaking 'not to explore or mine in World Heritage properties' and a commitment to take all possible steps to ensure that operations are not incompatible with the outstanding universal values of World Heritage properties.

ICMM members recognise the role of properly designated and managed protected areas in conservation strategies and the importance of national and global protected area systems. They further recognise that, in some cases, exploration and mining development may be incompatible with the objectives for which areas are designated for protection.

ICMM is committed to working with IUCN to strengthen its system of protected area categorisation.

ICMM members recognise that sufficient reform of this system will lead to recognition of categories of protected areas as 'no-go' areas and others with a multiple-use designation.

IUCN Director General, Achim Steiner, welcomed the decision. He said: "Today's announcement by ICMM sets an important precedent. By making this 'no-go' pledge, 15 leading mining and metal producing companies of the world have now created a threshold for corporate responsibility against which they and, indeed, others in the extractive industry will be assessed. While many issues and objectives remain to be addressed, this is an important milestone".

According to Francesco Bandarin, Director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the commitment by ICMM member companies 'not to explore or mine in World Heritage properties' is a major step forward. "It represents considerable progress since our first meetings with the mining industry in 1998. We hope that such a clear statement by the major mining companies in the world will significantly reduce direct or indirect impacts by mining on World Heritage sites all over the world," he said.

The ICMM has committed itself to work with IUCN and others in developing best practice guidance to enhance industry's contribution to biodiversity conservation, including in and around protected areas.

The ICMM is also committed to working with IUCN, governments, NGOs and others to develop transparent and fair science -based decision-making processes and assessment tools that better integrate biodiversity conservation and mining into land-use planning and management strategies.

Sir Robert Wilson, Chairman of ICMM said: "We understand that the analysis of all options for land use will sometimes mean that mining projects cannot proceed because unique and sensitive biological or cultural values would be compromised if they did. We need and intend to earn the trust of other participants in the debate so we can contribute to sustainable development."

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Notes to Editors

ICMM is an industry-based organisation that has been established to provide leadership to the mining and metals industry in meeting the challenges of sustainable development. Its membership is currently comprised of 15 of the world's largest mining and metal producing companies as well as 27 industry associations worldwide.

ICMM's 15 Corporate Members are:

  • Alcoa
  • Anglo American
  • AngloGold
  • BHP Billiton
  • Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
  • Mitsubishi Materials
  • Newmont
  • Nippon Mining & Metals
  • Noranda
  • Pasminco
  • Placer Dome
  • Rio Tinto
  • Sumitomo Metal Mining
  • Umicore
  • WMC Resources

For further information, please contact:
Scott Houston,
Programme Director,
International Council on Mining and Metals
19 Stratford Place
Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7290 4932
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7290 4933