December 2015

The latest CRIRSCO developments

  • By Ian Goddard HonFAusIMM CP(Man), Member of the Executive of JORC, Deputy Chairperson of CRIRSCO

Reviewing the achievements of a growing international body that ensures best practice in the minerals industry

The Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) is a founding member of the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO), which was formed in 2002.

In fact, AusIMM and JORC members have played significant roles in CRIRSCO’s development, starting with the late Norman Miskelly, who was the driving force at its inception and the Founding Chairman. Pat Stephenson was a Co-Chair in the early days and Peter Stoker, formerly Chair and now Deputy Chair of JORC, has been on CRIRSCO for more than a decade. I have been a representative of JORC for nine years, Secretary for four years and am now Deputy Chairperson of CRIRSCO.

CRIRSCO’s members are National Reporting Organisations (NROs), which are bodies responsible for developing mineral reporting codes, standards and guidelines for a single country or a grouping of countries. The member NROs nominate two representatives to the Committee who offer their services on a voluntary basis, as with JORC.

Since 2002, the number of members has grown from five to eight: Australasia (JORC), Chile (National Committee), Canada (CIM), Europe (PERC), Mongolia (MPIGM), Russia (NAEN), South Africa (SAMREC) and the USA (SME). A number of other countries are seeking to join CRIRSCO as they recognise the importance of having high-quality Codes for the public reporting of Mineral Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (known as Ore Reserves in the JORC Code).

More information about CRIRSCO is available on the website (www.crirsco.com), particularly the Terms of Reference. The contents of the next
five sections are largely extracted from that document.

Role

Consistent with the aims, objectives and strategies of its members, CRIRSCO provides an international forum that enables members to ensure consistency of their reporting standards in an international setting and contribute to the development of best practice international reporting.

CRIRSCO serves the international minerals industry and its stakeholders, including professional institutions, mining and exploration companies, shareholders, financial institutions, accountants and regulators.

CRIRSCO’s remit includes all solid minerals, including base and precious metals, gemstones, bulk commodities, aggregates, industrial minerals and energy minerals such as coal and uranium. It does not include non-solid energy minerals such as oil and gas, water or geothermal energy.

In recognition of the globalisation of the mining industry and the financial and regulatory (eg corporate governance) systems that apply, CRIRSCO aims to engage with all relevant organisations on behalf of its members and act as a focal point for dialogue on international minerals reporting issues.

CRIRSCO is an international advisory body without legal authority, relying on its constituent members to ensure regulatory and disciplinary oversight
at a national level. Its existence recognises the truly global nature of the minerals industry and the agreed need for international consensus on reporting standards.

Objective

CRIRSCO aims to promote best practice in the international public reporting of Mineral Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves.

CRIRSCO aims to achieve its stated objective by:

  • promoting uniformity, excellence and continuous improvement in national and international reporting standards for Mineral Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, through consultation and cooperation
  • representing the international minerals industry on resource and reserve reporting issues, including discussions with other international organisations, attending international meetings and providing written submissions
  • encouraging the continued development of international reciprocity of Competent/Qualified Persons through nationally-based Recognised Professional Organisations (RPOs)
  • promoting the use of a uniform and coherent best practice reporting standard for Mineral Exploration
    Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, including the provision and maintenance of the CRIRSCO International Reporting Template
  • facilitating the exchange of information and dialogue among CRIRSCO members and other stakeholders through an actively managed website that promotes discussion on current issues.

International Council on Mining and Metals

Since January 2007, CRIRSCO has been associated with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), which shares similar objectives and also represents the international mining industry with regards to sustainable development. Initially, CRIRSCO was a Task Force of that organisation and from October 2009 became a Strategic Partner. CRIRSCO acts at all times to uphold the principles of the ICMM.

The ICMM provides financial and administrative support to CRIRSCO but has no direct control or influence over CRIRSCO activities other than those required to maintain the relationship, such as budgetary approvals and periodic reporting of progress on agreed projects. Both parties agree to promote the activities of the other where appropriate.

The current memorandum of understanding (MOU) expires at the end of 2015 and a draft MOU for the next three years is under discussion. Because of the downturn in the minerals industry worldwide and the pressure on budgets, it is likely that the level of financial support from ICMM will be reduced.

Other sources of funding will be needed, and in the last two years JORC – through its parent organisations the AusIMM, the AIG and the MCA – and the ASX have subsidised the cost of its representatives attending the annual meeting. The revenue and cost budget of CRIRSCO will be reviewed at the next CRIRSCO annual meeting to see where savings can be made.

Template

CRIRSCO has developed an International Reporting Template (the Template), the purpose of which is to assist with the dissemination and promotion of effective, well-tried, good practice for public reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves already widely adopted through national reporting codes and standards.

The Template is not a Code as such, but should be seen as a basis for prospective countries to develop a Code that is compatible with those in the CRIRSCO family.

Expansion of membership

Any new NRO must meet the following criteria to be accepted for CRIRSCO membership:

Produce and be responsible for maintaining a reporting standard that is compatible with the Template and which is recognised as the standard for Public Reporting, or has the wide support of professional bodies, in the country/region. Note that compatibility with the CRIRSCO Template means having a standard that is largely based on the Template with national variations as required by regulators, but with minimal variation on the Standard Definitions contained in the Template. For purposes of government reporting, mapping to a previous Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve classification is permitted; however, ‘compatibility’ is not achieved by linking a national reporting system to the Template by mapping alone.

Agree to conduct international consultation with NROs represented on CRIRSCO before making amendments to its National or Regional reporting standard.

Include credible, self-regulating, professional bodies that provide disciplinary systems and codes of ethics that govern the behaviour of Competent Persons or equivalents as defined in the Template.

Commit to engaging in CRIRSCO activities.

CRIRSCO alone has the right to admit new members and to remove members from the Committee.

Recent members

Chile joined in 2003, having been party to the discussions in 2002. It was not until 2011 that another country, Russia, joined. This was after some years of close working between CRIRSCO and the State Commission on Mineral Reserves (GKZ) and the Russian Society of Subsoil Use Experts (OERN) to develop a Code aligned with the CRIRSCO Template (The National Association for Subsoil Use Auditing (NAEN) Code).

There was a similar process with Mongolia, which was admitted to membership in 2014 and is the first member from Asia. Mongolia signed an MOU with CRIRSCO in 2011 to jointly develop a compatible standard for reporting and a professional Society, with assistance from the World Bank. The Mongolian Code for the Public Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (The MRC Code) 2014 is under the control of the Mongolian Professional Institute of Geosciences and Mining (MPIGM), which is the National Reporting Organisation as well as the Professional Society.

There is a close link between the AusIMM and MPIGM, with the Executive Director of MPIGM, Gerlee Bayanjargal, being an International Representative of the AusIMM in Mongolia. The current Chair of CRIRSCO, Dr Harry Parker, is a representative of the SME and played a significant role in assisting MPIGM to become a member. Dr Parker was given an award (The Best Geologist in Mongolia) at a function of the Mongolian Geologists during the CRIRSCO annual meeting
in 2014.

Prospective members

There are countries all over the world expressing interest in joining CRIRSCO. This year, the CRIRSCO annual meeting will be held in Brasilia, Brazil. There has been close contact between CRIRSCO and a group of Brazilian entities to develop a compatible Code and a Professional Society with a Code of Ethics and a disciplinary system. If progress is maintained, then it is possible that Brazil will be welcomed to membership in late 2015.

Other South American countries, such as Peru, Colombia and Argentina, are at different stages in setting up a regime modelled on the Chilean Comision Minera, with a view to joining CRIRSCO.

In Asia, discussions have been held with Chinese organisations for many years on reporting systems. JORC Deputy Chair and long-term JORC representative on CRIRSCO Peter Stoker has been instrumental in leading these discussions. There is a very close relationship between the AusIMM and leaders in the Chinese minerals industry, many of whom are Fellows of the AusIMM. Mr Zhu Yang Yang is a representative of the AusIMM and CRIRSCO in China.

CRIRSCO has appointed two representatives in India who are promoting CRIRSCO’s interests there and assisting Indian entities to develop a compliant Code. There is quite strong support from professional societies. With the number of interested parties including professional societies, industry bodies, regulators and securities exchanges, considerable discussion will be needed to reach our goal.

CRIRSCO invited official observers from China and India to its annual meeting in Brasilia this year. It is expected that an observer from Argentina will attend as well.

In recent months, a representative of SAMREC, a CRIRSCO member, has been invited to work with the government of Kazakhstan to develop a CRIRSCO-style Code. It is expected that the Code will soon be finished, and the authorities are also addressing the Professional Society aspects of CRIRSCO membership so that Kazakhstan can apply to join CRIRSCO as soon as possible.

Representatives of other countries in dialogue with CRIRSCO include Indonesia, the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Turkey.

Standard Definitions

In 2010, CRIRSCO developed Standard Definitions on 13 major terms found in the Template (and the JORC Code). These were refined in 2011 and 2012 and two more definitions were added. The objective is to have the 15 Standard Definitions included in the Codes and Standards of all member NROs. The 2012 JORC Code has incorporated the Standard Definitions.

One of the significant changes, which was also made to the 2012 JORC Code as a result, was to be more specific as to the level of study required in the estimation of Mineral (Ore) Reserves.

Template revision

Apart from the inclusion of the Standard Definitions, there has been little change to the CRIRSCO Template since its publication in 2006. Since then there have been significant improvements to the Codes and Standards of member NROs. The 2012 JORC Code is a good example of the changes that have been made, and it has been accepted by other members as a positive step forward. Other updated Codes include the SME Guide and the PERC Code, while SAMREC currently has a draft Code out for public comment. It is an evolutionary process and each NRO can assess changes elsewhere and decide whether the changes are appropriate in their case. A good example of this is the approach SAMREC has to the layout of Table 1. The SME and SAMREC have included a Table 2, which gives ranges of levels of confidence for the different types of study in the estimation of Reserves.

It is time to update the CRIRSCO Template and a subcommittee met before the annual meeting in November to review the changes made in member Codes and developments in the industry and recommend changes to be considered by the full committee. One area of improvement, or expansion, is the guidance given to Competent Persons regarding the social licence to operate and the importance of society’s views that must be considered under the social and government Modifying Factors. Peter Stoker and I will be members of the subcommittee.

Competent Persons

Another topic for discussion at the annual meeting is the adequacy of the disciplinary process, especially when a member of an RPO is involved. This is partly to do with educating Competent Persons as to their responsibilities, but also to do with the flow of information while respecting confidentiality.

International Seabed Authority

A recent development has been CRIRSCO’s involvement with International Seabed Authority (ISA) as they sought to introduce an appropriate system for the reporting of Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves by mining contractors operating in offshore leases under the control of Member nations of ISA. Pat Stephenson contributed to the drafting of a reporting standard, based on the CRIRSCO Template, during and following one of ISA’s technical sessions. This standard has been adopted by ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission and will come into effect from 1 January 2016 for annual reports from the contractors.

Conclusion

CRIRSCO continues to be a vital international organisation, seeking to improve the standards of the public reporting of Mineral Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves. The spread of the Committee has increased and, judging from the interest of other countries, will soon cover most countries where mining is carried out or where its finance is sought.

The basic principles of the JORC Code of Transparency, Materiality and Competence will be found throughout. Having Standard Definitions for the 15 most significant terms is a positive feature of the family of Codes and Standards, enabling professionals and investors to have a common understanding in the reporting of Mineral Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves.

The AusIMM and JORC have been significant contributors to CRIRSCO’s activities and this will continue into the future. As new members join CRIRSCO, our Competent Persons may be accredited to operate in more countries through the international RPO systems and be more easily recognised by national registration processes in other countries, thus expanding their professional opportunities. 

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