Bettercoal Code

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Since the Bettercoal Code was launched in 2013, it has become the internationally recognised Standard for assessing, assuring and sustaining stringent ethical, environmental and social performance in the coal mining supply chain. Bettercoal Members use the 10 Principle Bettercoal Code, Assessment Process and Continuous Improvement Plans to understand, manage and mitigate the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks in their coal supply chain, striving to increase year-on-year the percentage of coal purchased from Bettercoal Suppliers. 

Historical development of the Bettercoal Code has been underpinned by formal and transparent stakeholder consultation processes and public comment periods, with consensus on the final Code overseen by the Bettercoal Stakeholder Advisory Group between 2011 and 2013 and with a public consultation process. In 2015, the multi-stakeholder Technical & Advisory Committee (TAC) was established and has been responsible for the review of the Bettercoal Code and Assurance System ever since. 

The current Bettercoal Code has 10 Principles grouped in 4 categories:

General Implementation Expectations

Legal Compliance, Policies and Systems

Companies shall comply with national applicable laws and regulations, and widely accepted international laws and strive to meet generally accepted international standards for ethical, social, and environmental performance where those exceed national standards.

Companies shall adopt and implement appropriate policies, systems, procedures, and controls, including ensuring organisational capacity and competency. Companies shall integrate these social and environmental elements into decision making, as well as support Continuous Improvement throughout the operational life cycle, and ensure companies are respecting Human Rights and contributing to sustainable development.

Business Ethics

Disclosure, Bribery and Facilitation Payments

Companies shall commit to ethical, social, and environmental performance disclosure and transparency.

Companies shall work against Corruption in all its forms, including extortion and Bribery, and prohibit bribery in any direct or indirect form.

Human Rights and Social Performance

Human Rights, Workers’ Rights and Community Engagement

Companies shall respect and promote Human Rights understood at a minimum as those in the International Bill of Human Rights and international humanitarian law.

Companies shall respect and recognise the rights of Workers, in particular the rights included in the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, as they derive from the ILO’s eight fundamental conventions.

Companies shall contribute to the long-term social, cultural, environmental, economic, and institutional development of communities in which they operate.


Environment, Pollution Prevention and Biodiversity

Companies shall implement practices that promote the Sustainable and efficient use of Natural Resources in their Operations.

Companies shall commit to prevent pollution in their operations by avoidance, abatement, and emission controls and the Rehabilitation of polluted sites.

Companies shall integrate practices that protect and support Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services impacted by their operations, throughout the life cycle of the mine.

Bettercoal is reviewing the Bettercoal Code, the sustainability standard against which we assess coal producing sites. This review follows ISEAL good practice and Bettercoal’s Code Review Procedure. It also draws on over 5 years of site assessments across 17 companies, covering 69 mines in 8 countries. During this time, Bettercoal has gained broad field experience using and implementing the Code but also has identified opportunities for improvement and alignment with the industry. The review is being steered by Bettercoal’s multi-stakeholder Technical and Advisory Committee (TAC) and full details can be found in the Bettercoal Code Review Public Summary.

Review and Planning

Sep-Dec 2019

Internal Consultation

Oct-Jan 2020

External Consultation

April-May 2020

Update and Finalisation

June-Dec 2020

Since September 2019 until now, Bettercoal has interviewed the TAC and internal stakeholders (such as the Bettercoal Secretariat, Bettercoal Members, Associate Members, Suppliers and Lead Assessors) and carried out benchmarking to six relevant mining voluntary sustainability standards (ResponsibleSteel, International Council for Mining & Metals, Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, Responsible Jewellery Council, Mining Association of Canada Towards Sustainable Mining, Aluminium Stewardship Council), to identify gaps and improvement opportunities for the current Bettercoal Code1.1  (English, Spanish, Russian and Indonesian). Feedback and recommendations from this phase have been used to create Version 1 of the  revised Bettercoal Code 2.0 (English, Spanish, Russian, Indonesian and Mandarin).

The revised Code 2.0 will be launched with an accompanying guidance document (being developed simultaneously to the Code), to help suppliers and auditors better understand the requirements of the Code and the steps needed to implement it. The upcoming Bettercoal Guidance will contain explanations on the requirements, description of the performance determination and suggested means of verification.

To engage with stakeholders externally, Bettercoal held a 60-day consultation period 1 April 2020 to 31 May 2020. This comment period is now closed but if you would like to review the documents, please refer to:

All comments received during the consultation period will be compiled and disclosed on the Bettercoal website, along with feedback on how issues have been addressed where appropriate.

If you have any comments or questions outside of the consultation period, please contact