RMI Annual Conference 209

RBA Foundation & Initial Audit Fund


RBA Foundation

The RBA Foundation was established in 2015. The purpose of the Foundation is to support RBA’s charitable, scientific and educational activities by improving the public’s ability to consider social, environmental, and economic responsibility within supply chains to make informed consumer decisions. The Foundation is recognized as a Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and therefore may receive  tax-deductible charitable contributions from individuals and corporations.  These contributions enable RBA and the Foundation to leverage opportunities for public funding to develop and implement special programs, research projects, tools and other initiatives for public benefit, in the area of responsible mineral sourcing.

The Foundation supports the charitable, scientific, and educational purposes of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) a project of RBA.

The principal purposes for contributions made to the Foundation in support of RMI are:

  • To maintain the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) Initial Audit Fund, which covers the first audit for RMAP auditees, and the publication of audit results on the RMI's website.
  • To support relevant upstream due diligence activities.
  • To develop and publicly disseminate  data, guidance, training, and tools for responsible sourcing.

Making a Donation

Donations to the Foundation can be made via check or wire transfer. Contributing companies will receive a letter from the Foundation thanking them for their donation and support of RMI. The acknowledgement letter will describe the approximate impact of their donation in terms of the number of initial audits that will be paid for by the donation.  Please note, the Foundation deducts 2% of the donation for operational costs.


Initial Audit Fund for Participating Smelters


The Initial Audit Fund is a voluntary program managed by the RMI designed to encourage RMAP-eligible smelters to undergo an independent third party audit and participate in an annual review process. The Fund offers smelters an incentive for participating in the RMAP by fully paying for the costs of their initial audit. Support for the Fund is provided on a voluntary basis and is available to smelters on a first come, first serve basis until audit funds are depleted.

The RMAP provides outcomes that are beneficial to both RMI members and the public: participating smelters or refiners (SORs) are publically listed on the RMI’s website for all actors in the supply chain to view and use in their sourcing decisions, regardless of whether they are a member of RMI or not; proliferation of the audit program also encourages greater number of SORs to develop systems and processes to support conflict-free mineral procurement that may improve responsible mineral practices sourcing upstream, and communities impacted by these improvements. 

The Initial Audit Fund was launched in 2013 by the following corporate donors:

  •     Apple
  •     General Electric
  •     Hewlett-Packard
  •     Intel
  •     Microsoft

Subsequent funding has been provided by:

  •     3M (2014)
  •     ABB (2015, 2016)
  •     Apple (2015)
  •     Baxter Healthcare Corporation (2015)
  •     Becton, Dickinson and Company (2016, 2017)
  •     Best Buy (2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)
  •     Dell Inc. (2018)
  •     EMC Corporation (2015)
  •     Ford Motor Company (2015)
  •     Google (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  •     GM (2017, 2018, 2019)
  •     Hewlett Packard Enterprise (2016, 2018)
  •     Honda (2015, 2016, 2017)
  •     HP Inc. (2018)
  •     IBM (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  •     Juniper Networks (2016)
  •     Lenovo (2017, 2019)
  •     LG Electronics USA, Inc. (2018, 2019)
  •     Lockheed Martin (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  •     Microsoft (2014, 2019)
  •     Nokia (2016)
  •     NXP Semiconductors (2016)
  •     On Semiconductor (2014)
  •     Qualcomm (2014, 2015. 2016, 2018)
  •     Sony Corporation (2016, 2018, 2019)
  •     Tenneco (2015)
  •     Texas Instruments Inc. (2016)


To be eligible for use of the funds, smelters must first meet the RMAP eligibility requirements. Once determined to be eligible for the audit, the smelter must not have undergone a previous RMAP audit, must have demonstrated its commitment to participating in the RMAP by signing the Auditee Agreement and Agreement for Exchange of Confidential Information, and must have submitted the Pre-Audit Checklist and Line Item Summary to RMI staff in a timely manner. The Fund can be applied to multiple facilities under a single smelter so long as it is each facility’s first audit. Furthermore, in order to encourage RMAP participation among as many companies as possible, each smelter is only eligible for one incentive for each metal for which it is undergoing the audit.


For more information or to make a donation, please contact Hillary Amster.


NEW! Upstream Due Diligence Smelter Fund

Issue Overview

Smelters and refiners participating in RMAP sourcing from Conflict-affected and High-risk Areas (CAHRAs) have a number of due diligence requirements, one of which is to conduct on-the-ground assessments. For the DRC, and some of the adjoining countries, upstream assurance mechanisms exist (e.g. iTSCi and BSP) to greatly reduce the burden on companies to conduct these activities by themselves. However, for newly identified CAHRAs, no upstream assurance mechanisms exist. This means the smelter or refiner must take individual responsibility to gather this information, causing a significant burden on them to expend resources, time, and money on conducting upstream due diligence independently. The burden is so great that it risks being an impediment to sourcing from those CAHRAs in a manner that could be of great economic development value for the local communities. Moreover, smelters and refiners often lack the expertise to conduct conflict/human rights assessments, as that is not a core of their business activity.

The New Fund

The RMI created a fund for smelters and refiners to offset the costs of mine-level assessments in CAHRAs that are not already covered by an upstream assurance mechanism. The fund would support the following activities:

  • Smelters and refiners independently conducting due diligence on their upstream supply chains either themselves or with a consultant
  • Local suppliers of smelters and refiners to conduct assessments themselves
  • Local communities from which smelter and refiners source to build capacity to conduct the assessments and ongoing mine site monitoring
  • Financial assistance to industry associations, educational organizations, or other not-for-profits who are looking to develop or expand upstream assurance mechanisms into CAHRAs more broadly
  • Applicable to minerals covered by RMAP / RMI

The fund is housed in the RBA Foundation. Companies can contribute to the fund at their voluntary discretion, and receive acknowledgement.To be eligible for use of the funds, smelters must first meet the RMAP eligibility requirements. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, as resources are available. Each smelter or refiner may apply once per year, and receive up to $10,000. Funds will be made available once donation total reaches $50,000.

Fund Donations

Please earmark your donation for the Upstream Due Diligence Smelter Fund. Donations to the RBA Foundation can be made via check or wire transfer. Contributing companies will receive a letter from the Foundation thanking them for their donation and support of RMI. Please note, the Foundation deducts 2% of the donation for operational costs.

For more information or to make a donation, please contact Hillary Amster.