Aurubis begins Copper Mark sustainability assessment process at Bulgaria smelter

European copper producer Aurubis has begun the process to gain the International Copper Alliance’s (ICA) Copper Mark at its metal processing facility in Pirdop, Bulgaria, it said on Friday July 24.

Aurubis will sign a letter of commitment to the Copper Mark, whereby the plant will agree to subject itself to a six-month criteria self-assessment. Following this, an external assessment will commence after 12 months, before routine evaluations are undertaken every three years.

The Copper Mark is a voluntary initiative, aligned with 32 sustainability criteria as set out in the Risk Readiness Assessment outlined by the Responsible Mineral Initiative (RMI). These include safeguarding production in line with environmental sustainability, with the requisite assessments applied to areas such as compliance, child labor, environmental production and occupational health and safety.

“While we fulfil the international standards that apply to gold and silver for the responsible production of raw materials, so far nothing comparable has existed for copper production,” Aurubis chief executive Roland Harings said in the press statement on Friday.

“Therefore, The Copper Mark closes an important gap, and we hope that our participation has a cascading effect on the industry,” Harings added.

The initiative coincides with the London Metal Exchange’s push for responsible sourcing, which gathered momentum at last year’s annual LME Week and takes guidance from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The exchange has stated that full compliance from registered producers will be required by 2023, and just last month bolstered efforts to explore low-carbon initiatives in the push for green aluminium. The LME also recognizes the Copper Mark.

Aurubis’ adoption of the Copper Mark assurance framework marks the third large global copper producer to conform to the standards since applications were opened to copper producers in March, signifying progress in responsible sourcing efforts despite supply chain setbacks due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Fellow European producer KGHM, as well as Rio Tinto’s US-based entity Kennecott Utah Copper and part-owned Mongolian mine Oyu Tolgoi have also filed letters of commitment.

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