The purpose of the benchmark report was to identify an existing standard that could serve as the most effective tool for managing a wide range of environmental and social impacts at industrial precious metals mines. While the report focuses primarily on gold mining, much of the analysis applies equally to a broader range of mined minerals, as well.
In addition to comparing and ranking the standards as a whole, the report also includes rankings in a range of sub-categories. For instance, the authors were asked to evaluate whether one standard was particularly strong in the area of human rights, while another offered the best system for environmental assurance.
This was important because some of the standards were designed to focus on only one category of impacts (e.g., the International Cyanide Management Code on cyanide use or the Global Reporting Initiative on reporting) and could be used in combination. Solidaridad commissioned the independent report, authored by Estelle Levin Ltd. in the U.K., for programme planning purposes in 2010. However, we recognised early on that many stakeholders were looking for clarity on the relative strengths and weaknesses of the standards and might benefit from reading the report. We therefore decided to release it publicly in 2011.