Driving Responsible Production in Raw Material Industries: The Copper Mark, Nickel Mark, Zinc Mark and Molybdenum Mark

October 4, 2023

Companies are recognizing that their supply chains hold significant influence over environmental, social, and governance issues. This awareness is shaping procurement strategies and driving changes further up the supply chain, all the way to the top – to the producers of raw minerals.

For example:

  • Microsoft talks about a future where all raw materials are sourced from responsible suppliers, indicating a trend towards greater corporate responsibility.
  • AstraZeneca highlights the need for transparency and continuous improvement in the supply chain back to the source of origin.
  • Volkswagen Group’s commitment to sustainable procurement of raw materials demonstrates how companies are working with indirect suppliers to ensure responsible sourcing.
  • Henkel’s responsible sourcing approach focuses on sustainability aspects throughout its supply chain.

This shift towards responsibility is not just about doing what’s right; it’s also about business resilience.

The Copper Mark, Nickel Mark, Zinc Mark and Molybdenum Mark

Copper, molybdenum, nickel and zinc are fundamental to the energy transition, given their use in most essential renewable technologies. To maximize the contribution of these metals to the energy transition, they need to be produced, sourced and recycled responsibly.

The Copper Mark (including The Nickel Mark, Zinc Mark and Molybdenum Mark) was developed to provide producers of these minerals with a framework that when followed, enables them to demonstrate responsible production practices. The framework covers a comprehensive set of criteria outlining the expectations for responsible production, including environmental stewardship, human rights, community engagement, and business ethics.

For producers of copper, nickel, zinc and molybdenum, certification can bring many benefits:

  • Enhanced reputation
  • Greater trust and credibility
  • Increased access to markets
  • Superior risk management
  • Improved relationships with all stakeholders

For company’s wanting to apply for certification there is a clear process to follow as outlined on the Copper Mark website, summarized in the table below.

Copper Mark Certification Steps

Letter of Commitment
Independent Assessment
Corrective Actions
This step serves as a public declaration of intent. It is an opportunity for the mine or refinery to publicly assert its dedication to responsible copper production, creating a sense of accountability and setting the stage for the implementation of the Copper Mark Assurance Process.
In this stage, the mine or refinery uses the Copper Mark Criteria as a benchmark to scrutinize its own operations. This self-evaluation encompasses a broad range of factors such as environmental impact, social responsibility, and governance structures, enabling the organization to identify areas of strength and potential improvement.
This involves an onsite evaluation conducted by an impartial Copper Mark Assessor. The assessor meticulously reviews all relevant documentation, conducts comprehensive interviews with key stakeholders, and observes operations firsthand. This unbiased evaluation ensures that the self-assessment has been thorough and honest, and that all Copper Mark Criteria are being met.
If any discrepancies or non-compliances are identified during the independent assessment, this step ensures they are addressed. The mine or refinery is required to implement corrective measures, which may involve modifications to operational procedures, changes in governance, or shifts in environmental management practices. This step is critical in ensuring adherence to the Copper Mark Criteria.
The final step of the process, this involves a follow-up evaluation by the independent Copper Mark Assessors. The purpose of this re-assessment is to verify that all corrective actions have been properly implemented and that the mine or refinery has achieved continued conformance with the Copper Mark Criteria.

These steps form a structured process that guides mines and refineries through the journey of committing to responsible copper production, assessing their practices, making necessary improvements, and demonstrating ongoing compliance with the Copper Mark Criteria.

If you’d like to know more, please reach out…