Copper sustainable group expects more members following Rio Tinto’s units

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Copper Mark, a traceability system launched by the International Copper Association (ICA), expected more members this year after two units of mining giant Rio Tinto joined in May.

Copper Mark was launched in April 2019 as part of ICA’s effort to bring the whole copper supply chain in par with the rising standards and expectations for responsible copper production.

It welcomed Oyu Tolgoi LLC in Mongolia and Kennecott Utah Copper LLC in the United States, both owned by Rio Tinto, and expected members of the ICA to be among the early adopters, said Michele Brulhart, its executive director.

“There wasn’t a system in place for the copper industry to demonstrate responsible production practices,” Brulhart told Reuters.

“There are opportunities for some of the mining companies but they …certainly don’t go beyond the production stage,” she added.

ICA’s members include most of the world’s biggest miners, such as Chile’s Codelco, BHP Group, Glencore PLC, Freeport-McMoRan Inc, or Anglo American PLC and some smelters and fabricators.

Brulhart said those certified under Copper Mark would be qualified for the London Metal Exchange’s (LME) responsible sourcing requirements, a key driver for potential participants.

Copper Mark’s process takes up to two years and renews every three years. It accepts existing qualifications, such as the International Council on Mining & Metals’ performance expectations to avoid redundancy.

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed down Copper Mark’s adoption but there is a need for the system, said Brulhart, who will speak at next week’s Copper to the World Online conference and expect to hear feedback from the industry.

“LME’s move to include this responsible sourcing requirements is a recognition that this is becoming more of an expectation,” Brulhart said.

“So (it’s) less of a ‘nice to have’ that will distinguish you and really more of a basic expectation that you produce your metal responsibly.”

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