(Washington, DC – February 16, 2022) The International Cyanide Management Code reached an important milestone this week with its announcement of the 1000th certification in the program’s history, which began certifying mining, transport, and cyanide production facilities in April 2006. Today, the Cyanide Code is one of the most established and mature certification schemes in the minerals sector. It serves as a framework for assurance to the industry’s stakeholders that cyanide is being properly managed by the gold and silver mining industry.
The Cyanide Code was developed a by multi-stakeholder steering committee under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme and the then International Council for Metals and Environment (the forerunner to ICMM). As conceived in 2002, the Cyanide Code is a voluntary industry program focusing on the safe production, transport, use and disposal of cyanide in the gold mining industry, and, beginning in 2016, the silver industry as well.
Through its nine principles and 29 standards of practice, the Cyanide Code sets out auditable expectations for management of cyanide in relation to worker health and safety, water management, environmental monitoring, documentation, emergency preparedness and response, training, decommissioning, financial assurance and stakeholder engagement. The Cyanide Code is dynamic in nature, and has been revised over time as technology has advanced and best practices for cyanide management have evolved.
Today, 54 gold mining companies have signed on and committed to implement the Cyanide Code’s provisions at 135 mining operations around the world. An important feature of the Cyanide Code is the requirement for not only mining companies to become signatories but also the producers and transporters of cyanide, thereby securing the entire supply chain. Twenty-nine cyanide producers and 128 cyanide transporters also are Cyanide Code signatories. The global reach of the Cyanide Code is demonstrated by the fact that the signatory mining companies with participating operations in 32 countries account for the vast majority of the sodium cyanide used in the industrial gold and silver mining sectors. Another way of looking at the scale is to realize that better than half of the world’s gold production by cyanidation at industrial mines is taking place under the conditions laid down by the Cyanide Code.
The Cyanide Code continues to gain support, with new signatories and certified operations being regularly announced. While most of the major international gold mining companies are signatories, the majority of mining signatories are mid-tier and smaller producers, including companies with a single gold mine producing as little as 50,000 ounces of gold per year.
A key to the program’s success has been its rigor, through requiring certification of participating operations through triennial audits by independent third-party auditors, and its transparency, by requiring public posting of audit reports and the credentials of the associated auditors on the internet. Audit reports remain public for the duration of an operation’s participation in the program. More than 800 audit reports are currently published on the Cyanide Code website.
These characteristics have also contributed to the Cyanide Code’s success, as demonstrated by the recognition it has received, its use by governments, non-governmental organizations, and financial institutions, and its incorporation into other initiatives for protection of health and the environment. The Cyanide Code is now widely described in literature, produced not only by academics but also governments and non-governmental organizations.
The success of the Cyanide Code rests with the companies that continue to elevate their performance through commitment to the Cyanide Code’s Principles and Standards of Practice. Through their actions these companies demonstrate the great value and global importance of corporate responsibility and assurance to their stakeholders.
The International Cyanide Management Code is administered by the International Cyanide Management Institute, which was established for the purpose of promoting the Code adoption, evaluating its implementation, and managing the certification process for operations using, producing, and transporting cyanide. A detailed list of the operations covered by signatory companies’ applications, along with the full text of the Cyanide Code and its implementing and administrative documents, are available at www.cyanidecode.org.
Wednesday, February 16, 2022