CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
Updated March 2020
Ethical behaviour is not simply about following laws, regulations, and other rules. Engineering professionals will, throughout their careers, encounter situations in which there is no definitive rule that specifies how to act, or the rules that exist may be unclear or even in conflict with each other. Responsible professionals must be willing and able to identify potential ethical issues and create solutions to them even in the absence of clearly stated rules. Ethical leadership is of dire need irrespective of the role one plays in society, in the workplace and at home. From the perspective of the SAIMM (“the Institute”) it is envisaged that its members comply with these guidelines in all aspects, particularly to their roles as members and ambassadors of the Institute.
The purpose of this code is to:
Promote ethical thought processes and behavioural patterns among SAIMM members.
- Encourage members to apply their minds with integrity and sincerity to the principles of professionalism embodied in its clauses.
- Inspire principled behaviours under a wide range of conditions.
- Motivate members to mentor and guide their colleagues in honourable practices; and
- Commit members to uphold and enhance the honesty, honour, integrity and dignity of their profession, such that the members and their professions merit the highest esteem by the community.
A1.1 In accordance with Clause 2 of the Constitution, the Council may delegate some or all of its duties and responsibilities related to membership to a Membership Committee.
H2 ETHICAL PRINCIPLES
H2.1 Have due regard for the welfare, safety and health of the general public (including employees and fellow professionals) and the environment in all activities.
H2.2 Discharge their duties to employers and/or clients effectively and competently, with fidelity and honesty as well as respect their employer’s confidentiality.
H2.3 Uphold the dignity and standing of their respective professions and the objectives of the Institute.
H2.4 Only undertake work that they have been adequately trained for, have the necessary experience of, and are therefore competent to perform.
H2.5 Strictly avoid advertising their professional services in a self-laudatory way or in a manner that would undermine the dignity of the Institute.
H2.6 Refrain from malicious or negligent conduct that would injure the professional reputation or business of others.
H2.7 Continue their professional development throughout their careers.
H2.8 Comply with the Constitution of the Institute and, where applicable, those of legislated Codes of Professional Conduct.
H3 INTERPRETATION – Guideline to Principles of Professional Behaviour
H3.1 Have due regard for the welfare, safety and health of the general public (including employees and fellow professionals) and the environment in all activities.
To this end members of SAIMM shall:
H3.1.1 Work to acceptable technological standards.
H3.1.2. Endeavour at all times to not jeopardise public welfare, safety or health. This would include the application of relevant occupational health and safety standards.
H3.1.3 Endeavour to promote public well-being and, should their judgement be over-ruled, strongly object and inform their employer or client of any possible consequences.
H3.1.4 Contribute to debate on scientific and technological issues in their areas of competence in order to further public understanding and well-being.
H3.2 Discharge their duties to employers and/or clients effectively and competently, with fidelity and honesty as well as respect their employer’s confidentiality.
Members of SAIMM shall:
H3.2.1 Avoid all known or potential conflicts of interest at all times.
H3.2.2 Be impartial, when administering a contract, in its interpretation.
H3.2.3 Not accept compensation from more than one party for services rendered on a contract unless disclosed to and agreed by all interested parties.
H3.2.4 Disclose to their employer or client, in writing any interest, financial or otherwise, which they may have in a company, organisation or person related to the work for which they have been employed.
H3.2.5 Disclose details of royalties or any other benefits which may accrue to them arising from the work for which they are responsible.
H3.2.6 Not solicit payment from suppliers of materials and equipment for specifying their particular products.
H3.2.7 Not solicit nor accept gratuities nor commissions from contractors, agents or other parties employed by their employer or client in connection with the work for which they are responsible unless authorised, in writing, by their employer or client.
H3.2.8 Advise their employer or client where, as a result of their studies, they believe that a project is not viable.
H3.2.9 Not use nor disclose confidential information gained in the course of employment without the expressed, written permission of the employer or client.
H3.3 Uphold the dignity and standing of their respective professions and the objectives of the Institute.
Members of SAIMM should endeavour, through their behaviour, to elicit the highest esteem of all communities (viz. employers/clients, the profession, the general public, colleagues). Thus, a member shall not:
H3.3.1 Be involved in any business or professional practice that is of a fraudulent or dishonest nature.
H3.3.2 Conceal unethical acts.
H3.3.3 Continue in a partnership, nor act in any professional matters with any person who has been removed from the Institute’s membership due to unprofessional conduct.
H3.4 Only undertake work that they have been adequately trained for, have the necessary experience of, and are therefore competent to perform.
While the provisions contained within this clause are not designed to restrict competitive behaviour in any way, the Institute requires members to:
H3.4.1 Inform their employer or client and make recommendations for obtaining further advice if an assignment requires qualifications and experience beyond their field of competence.
H3.4.2 Refrain from describing themselves, nor permit themselves to be described as, nor act as consultants unless they are prepared to occupy a position of professional independence and design and supervise works and act as an unbiased independent adviser.
H3.5 Strictly avoid advertising their professional services in a self-laudatory way or in a manner that would undermine the dignity of the Institute.
Members of SAIMM should avoid improper conduct for personal gain. Thus, members shall:
H3.5.1 Only approach prospective employers and clients with due regard to their professional independence and this Code of Professional Conduct.
H3.5.2 Neither pay, nor offer, inducements for work.
H3.5.3 Give credit for professional work to those to whom it is due.
H3.5.4 Shall refrain from plagiarism in both oral and written communication and shall not knowingly accept credit rightfully due another and will not knowingly submit the same professional paper for publication in more than one peer-reviewed journal.
H3.5.5 Properly use circumspect advertising to announce their practice and availability.
H3.6 Refrain from malicious or negligent conduct that would injure the professional reputation or business of others.
The conduct of members of SAIMM shall never lead to the downfall of others. Thus, member shall:
H3.6.1 Not attempt to supplant another employee or consultant who has been appointed.
H3.6.2 Neither maliciously nor carelessly do anything to injure, directly or indirectly, the reputation, prospects or business of others.
H3.6.3 Not unfairly criticise the work of others.
H3.6.4 Exercise restraint when explaining their work.
H3.6.5 Promote the principle of engagement on merit.
H3.6.6 Not misrepresent their own nor their associates’ qualifications, experience and previous responsibilities.
H3.7 Continue their professional development throughout their careers.
Members of the SAIMM shall:
H3.7.1 Maintain their personal competence by keeping abreast with developments in their field or speciality through a formal Continuing Professional Development programme.
H3.7.2 Actively assist and encourage those under their direction to advance their knowledge and skills.
H3.8 Comply with the Constitution of the Institute and, where applicable, those of legislated Codes of Professional Conduct or relevant Codes of Practice.
Members of the SAIMM shall:
H3.8.1 Comply with all Codes of Conduct/Practice prescribed by the SAIMM. These include, but are not limited to:
H3.8.2 All Codes and Guidelines that form part of the SAMCODES and, in particular, the requirements of a “Competent Person”, “Competent Valuator” and/or “Qualified Reserves Evaluator”.
H3.8.3 The SAIMM Procedures for Complaints and Corrective Action.
H3.8.4 The SAIMM Peer Review process for Competent Person/Valuator sign-off.
H3.8.5 The Mine Health and Safety Act.
H3.8.6 The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations.
H3.8.7 Inform themselves, and take cognisance, of the laws and regulations governing the minerals industry in Southern Africa, or in any other country in which they work as an employee or consultant. Where such laws are in conflict with generally acceptable Human Rights practices, members should apply their minds to the nature and limit of their involvement in that particular project.
H3.8.8 Practise their profession in accordance with this Code of Professional Conduct.
H4 SAIMM PROCEDURES FOR DEALING WITH TRANSGRESSIONS OF THE CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT (COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE)
The SAIMM Procedures for Transgressions of the Code of Professional Conduct (Complaints Procedure) has been adopted to reinforce By-Law H
The purpose of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy’s Code of Professional Conduct (By-law H) is to maintain the professional esteem of the members throughout the wider community. Anyone should be able to make a formal complaint against a member, in relation to an alleged breach of the Code of Professional Conduct or the Constitution of the Institute.
H4.2 Transgressions of the Code of Professional Conduct
It is understood that breaches of this Code might happen inadvertently, without dishonesty. If a member should become aware of an alleged or perceived transgression or simple non-compliance on the part of a colleague, there are a number of avenues to be followed, remembering that the Code is not meant to be a “big stick”, and that the primary objective is to guide and continuously improve ethical behaviour patterns on the part of SAIMM members.
H4.2.1 Consequently, the first course of any intervention, or remedial action, should be for the member to approach the transgressor, person or colleague privately, to discuss the issue or concern in an open, reasonable and professional manner.
H4.2.2 It is appreciated that, for any number of personal reasons, this may not be possible or desirable. In these situations, the member should consider approaching a colleague to assist with the intervention. This may be a mutually respected acquaintance/colleague or a senior Fellow of the SAIMM.
H4.2.3 It is only if all personal efforts at remedial action have failed (or where the issue is one of serious professional misconduct), that the member should follow the formal complaints process detailed below.
Any member who is troubled by an ethical problem (on the part of a colleague or on behalf of themselves) should feel free to discuss their concerns with one or more of the senior members of the SAIMM. Anyone who wishes to do so should contact the Manager for further information.
Complaints can involve non-compliance against the Code of Professional Conduct, the SAMCODE or the Constitution of the Institute; they may also relate to situations that potentially exhibit dishonesty, intent, repetition or reckless incompetence. Any individual or organisation can make a complaint – a complainant does not have to be affiliated to the SAIMM in any way. All complaints, however, whatever their nature, must be referred in writing, to the Chair of the Complaints Committee. Routing should be via the Manager (SAIMM). Such complaints need to be detailed and refer to explicit actions/comments by the individual with reference to specific clauses in the SAIMM Code of Professional Conduct – it is not the responsibility of the Complaints Committee to build the complaint – that is the obligation of the complainant. Any incomplete complaints are simply referred back to the complainant without any action, until full, complete and relevant documentation has been provided by the complainant.
H4.3 Overriding Principles
Complaints against members will be handled as follows:
H4.3.1 The overriding principles here are firstly that the reputation of a member must be protected while an alleged breach is assessed and secondly, that the process itself conforms to the principles of natural justice.
H4.3.2 The requirements are:
- That confidentiality is paramount.
- That the process must minimise the opportunity for false implications from accusations and complaints.
- That a committee handling a complaint with serious implications is not both prosecutor and judge.
- That appropriate cases are handled internally by the Institute or are referred to the judicial system if there is perceived criminal intent.
- That an independent appeals process be available.
H4.3.3 To meet these requirements two independent committees, a Complaints Committee and an Ethics Committee, will deal with complaints. The Complaints Committee receives and screens all complaints and if necessary gathers evidence, before rejecting complaints as frivolous, redirecting them as commercial, or dealing with them as potential “non-compliance” against any of the SAMCODES or the Constitution of the Institute, except for complaints relevant to the Code of Professional Conduct. These can arise as primary complaints against the Code of Professional Conduct or as cases of “non-compliance” established by the Complaints Committee, that also potentially exhibit dishonesty, intent, repetition or reckless incompetence.
H4.3.4 The Complaints Committee will pass complaints relevant to the Code of Professional Conduct to the Ethics Committee for assessment and determination. The Ethics Committee can obtain independent opinion but not gather evidence, nor bring an ethics complaint of its own accord.
H4.3.5 The separation of committees in this way is intended to enable the majority of complaints to be handled without an implication of unethical behaviour, and ethical complaints to be handled without a perception of bias.
H4.4 The Complaints Committee
H4.4.1 The purpose of this committee is to protect the reputation of a member while an alleged breach is dealt with. This committee will handle all complaints; sort out frivolous complaints, complaints where there has been non-compliance and complaints where there have been serious breaches such as “unethical behaviour”.
H4.4.2 The Complaints Committee comprises three Fellows (excluding current members of Council and Fellows sitting on the Ethics Committee) and one current member of Council. Council selects committee members for a three-year term, following a general call for nominations. The Complaints Committee elects its own Chair (not a current Councillor) for a period agreed amongst its members.
H4.4.3 All complaints, whatever their nature, are to be initially referred in writing, to the Chair of the Complaints Committee. Any individual or organisation can make a complaint.
H4.4.4 The Complaints Committee can seek advice from independent experts (such as SAMREC competent persons, or legal practitioners), or it can seek additional evidence relating to the complaint if deemed necessary. It can also seek advice relating to SAIMM policy from the President or the Council.
H4.4.5 A member against whom a complaint is made shall be entitled to notice in writing of the substance of the complaint and to a reasonable opportunity to be heard in respect of such complaint before the Complaints Committee. The procedure to be adopted in respect of the complaint shall be at the discretion of the Complaints Committee.
H4.4.6 The Complaints Committee will address each complaint, then after deliberation and advice and within 90 days of receipt of the complaint will:
- Dismiss the complaint as frivolous or vexatious, or
- Refer the complaint back to the parties or to an Alternative Disputes Resolution process if related to dysfunctional contractual arrangements, or
- Refer the case to the judicial system if there is perceived criminal intent, or
- Refer the complaint to the Ethics Committee (see below) if there is a perceived breach of the Code of Professional Conduct (even for complaints not initially directed to the Code of Professional Conduct), or
- Deal with the matter if it is deemed a technical breach of an Institute Code (excluding the Code of Professional Conduct). If a “non-compliance” is established, then apply the penalty that is available to the Complaints Committee. This can include personal admonition, mediation and counselling, but not suspension of membership.
H4.4.7 All cases are to be dealt with confidentially. The person who laid the complaint should be notified of the Committees finding and action and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange must be notified in the case of a finding of non-compliance in relation to the relevant SAMCODE
H4.4.8 If an established “non-compliance” of an Institute or other Professional Code has characteristics of dishonesty, intent, repetition or reckless incompetence, then it has to be additionally forwarded to the Ethics Committee for judgement against the Code of Professional Conduct.
H4.4.9 The Chair of the Complaints Committee is to present, to the Ethics Committee, the evidence and process undertaken surrounding any complaint referred to the Ethics Committee
H4.4.10 The complainant has a right of appeal directly to the Ethics Committee of the Council against any decision of the Complaints Committee.
H4.5 The Ethics Committee
H4.5.1 The purpose of the Ethics Committee is to deal with all complaints directed to it by the Complaints Committee, and any appeals against the Complaints Committee decisions, brought before it.
H4.5.2 It must always be independent.
H4.5.3 An "Ethics complaint" means a complaint where a member of the Institute has breached any obligation of the Code of Professional Conduct or any other Code of the Institute, or any rule published by the Council prevailing at the relevant time or any alleged unprofessional conduct by that member.
H4.5.4 An Ethics Committee constitutes four Fellows (excluding current members of Council and Fellows sitting on the Complaints Committee), selected by the Council for a three-year term, following a general call for nominations. One current SAIMM member of Council, nominated annually by the Council constitutes the fifth member of the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee elects its own Chair for a period agreed amongst its members. The current Council member cannot chair the committee. Three members constitute a quorum for a meeting of the Ethics Committee.
H4.5.5 The Council member serving on the Ethics Committee has the responsibility to advise the Council, on a “need to know basis”, of any fiduciary or any other matter related to Committee business, which could potentially affect Council members.
H4.5.6 Notwithstanding the membership conditions outlined in (7) and (9) above, Complaints and Ethics Committee members must declare any Conflict of Interest to the Council, who are then to nominate a replacement for the period of the Conflict of Interest.
H4.5.7 In relation to complaints brought before it, the normal “Rules of Evidence” are not to bind the Ethics Committee. It can obtain independent or legal advice on evidence before it but because this committee is set up to judge (not prosecute) it cannot seek additional evidence, nor bring an ethics complaint against any member of its own accord.
H4.5.8 In relation to an ethics complaint brought before it, the Ethics Committee will:
- Find that a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct has not been established, or
- Find that a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct has been established, either as “non-compliance” or in more serious cases as “unethical behaviour”, and impose an appropriate penalty, which can include suspension or expulsion from the Institute and publication of the case, or
- Forward serious cases of unethical behaviour onto the relevant Statutory Bodies (ECSA, etc.).
H4.5.9 Notwithstanding (b) above, a second finding of technical “non-compliance” with the Code of Professional Conduct is not to be directed against a member for the same offence, purely as a result of commonality of code principles.
H4.5.10 In relation to an appeal against a Complaints Committee decision, the Ethics Committee can:
a Uphold the decision of the Complaints Committee, or
b Reclassify the Complaint and the manner in which it is to be handled, as appropriate.
H4.5.11 An appeal against a ruling by the Ethics Committee, on any alleged breach of the Code of Professional Conduct, is to be made to an independent arbitrator.
H4.5.12 An ethics complaint shall be referred to the Ethics Committee for hearing and determination as expeditiously as is reasonably possible.
H4.5.13 A member against whom an ethics complaint is made shall be entitled to notice in writing of the substance of the complaint and to a reasonable opportunity to be heard in respect of such complaint before the Ethics Committee. The procedure to be adopted in respect of an ethics complaint shall be at the discretion of the Ethics Committee.
H4.5.14 At the conclusion of the hearing of an ethics complaint, the Ethics Committee may find that the complaint has not been established, or may find that the complaint has been established, in which case the Ethics Committee may:
a Decide to take no further action.
b Warn or reprimand the member concerned.
c Suspend the membership of the member concerned for a period not exceeding 12 months, require that the member undergo further training.
d Resolve that the member be suspended or expelled from the Institute.
e Refer the matter to the relevant Statutory Body (ECSA, etc.).
H4.5.15 A resolution of the Ethics Committee that a member be expelled shall not take effect until such resolution is confirmed by an ordinary resolution of the Council of the Institute, and the member concerned shall be given the opportunity to be heard by the Council before it decides whether or not to adopt any such resolution of the Ethics Committee.
H4.5.16 A member who is dissatisfied with a decision by the Ethics Committee that is adverse to that member may by notice in writing delivered to the Manager of the Institute within sixty days of the giving of such a decision (or within such later time as the Council may by ordinary resolution allow) appeal against such decision.
H4.5.17 The Council shall proceed to hear and determine an appeal from a decision of the Ethics Committee as expeditiously as is reasonably possible. The member who is appealing shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on the appeal, but otherwise the procedure to be adopted shall be at the discretion of the Council. The Council shall decide the appeal by ordinary resolution, and shall in reaching a decision as to what should be the outcome of the ethics complaint giving rise to the appeal has all of the powers of the Ethics Committee, and may, within those powers, decide to vary the penalty that was imposed by the Ethics Committee.
H4.5.18 On the hearing of an appeal by the Council, and in considering whether or not to confirm a resolution of the Ethics Committee that a member be expelled, the Council shall be provided with a record of the proceedings before the Ethics Committee, including the evidence, and shall be bound by any findings of fact made by the Ethics Committee, unless it is persuaded that it would be manifestly unjust for it to do so, and it shall not be necessary for the evidence before the Ethics Committee to be recalled before the Council.
H4.5.19 In any proceeding under this procedure neither the Ethics Committee nor the Council shall be bound by the rules of evidence and each shall proceed with as little formality and technicality and as much expeditiousness as a fair consideration permits.
H4.5.20 The Ethics Committee or the Council may direct that any finding made by the Ethics Committee or the Council (as the case may be) made against a member as a result of an ethics complaint be reported to members in a publication of the Institute, or be reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities.
H4.5.21 A member against whom an ethics complaint has been made and which is subsequently dismissed may publicise that dismissal to the same extent as any publicity given to the lodging of the ethics complaint.
H4.5.22 The Council may from time to time make or amend the guidelines to assist members in the implementation of these procedures. Such guidelines must not be inconsistent with these procedures.
H4.5.23 All members are bound by a determination of the Ethics Committee or the Council made pursuant to these guidelines.
The primary objective of this procedure is to encourage interventions through discussions and/or mentorship to continuously improve ethical awareness and behaviour patterns on the part of SAIMM membership. The SAIMM as an entity (including its structures) cannot and does not raise complaints (SAIMM members, or members of the Public, however, can). The Complaints Committee can investigate and build a case based on a complaint (it doesn’t raise them or formulate complaints). The role of the Ethics Committee is to judge the case/facts presented by the Complaints Committee, it does not investigate or formulate a case – this is the principle of separation of roles/powers. So:
- Every member of the SAIMM is subject to the Complaints process, as defined in the Constitution
- Complaint is raised by a member of the public (including SAIMM members).
- The complaint is investigated by the Complaints Committee who investigate it and try to resolve it amicably between the parties. If this fails, they formulate a case and present it to the Ethics Committee.
- The Ethics Committee judge the case presented to it, using the principle of the balance of probabilities (not beyond reasonable doubt which is the standard in legal cases). The Ethics Committee does not investigate or add to the case or complaint.
- At every stage, an independent appeals process is available
However, before a complaint gets to the Complaints Committee, there are alternative interventions or remedial actions that can be followed, remembering that the Code is not meant to be a “big stick”, and that the primary objective is to continuously improve and guide ethical behaviour patterns on the part of SAIMM members:
H4.6.1 Consequently, the first course of any intervention, or remedial action should be for the member to approach the transgressor, personor colleague privately, to discuss the issue or concern in an open, reasonable and professional manner.
H4/6/2 It is appreciated that, for any number of personal reasons, this may not be possible or desirable. In these situations, the member should consider approaching a colleague to assist with the intervention. This may be a mutually respected acquaintance/colleague or a senior Fellow of the SAIMM.
H4.6.3 It is only if all personal efforts at remedial action have failed (or where the issue is one of serious professional misconduct), that the member should follow the formal complaints process detailed in this SAIMM Procedure.
The SAIMM Code of Professional Conduct has been compiled and benchmarked against various other international and local codes applicable to the engineering and geoscientific fraternity. A short, bibliography is provided below. Members are encouraged to consult these, and other, references for a more comprehensive understanding of applicable ethical principles.
Code for Professional Conduct Regulations – By-Law 18 of the Constitution of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).
Code of Ethics for the practice of professional engineering and Professional Geoscience. APEGM, Canada.
Code of Ethics of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM)
Code of Conduct of the Institute of Directors of South Africa (IoDSA)
Code of Conduct – John Wood Group PLC
Code of Ethics – Engineering Council of SA (ECSA)
Code of Conduct – South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP)
Code of Ethics – Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA)