Foundation releases reply to comments made about Fairtrade gold.
The Fairtrade Foundation in the UK has responded to comments made in the Dispatches’ The Real Price of Gold programme which aired on Channel 4 on Monday.
The programme makers challenged the British gold jewellery industry to come clean about where their gold comes from and highlighted the newly-launched Fairtrade and Fairmined gold as an ethical answer to how the jewellery industry was moving forward.
The programme stated that Fairtrade and Fairmined gold was "only available in minuscule amounts" and that the Fairtrade Foundation "was only aiming to catch 5% of the market in the next fifteen years". These two issues were cited as the main barriers stopping Fairtrade and Fairmined gold from becoming a mainstream jewellery option on the high street.
In support of the retailers key to the increased supplies of Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold on the high street, Stuart Barber of the Fairtrade Foundation released the following statement from the organisation earlier today:
"We are very optimistic and ambitious about the potential of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold. Since its launch earlier this year in February, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response from the jewellery sector and the wider public interest it has generated.
"The Fairtrade Foundation is dedicated to bringing a sustainable supply to the UK as soon as possible. But anyone who has any knowledge of working with small-scale and artisanal mining will understand the complex issues in this sector. Supporting miners to form associations and gain legal recognition, to tackle the health and safety problems they face and to reduce the environmental impacts resulting from the use of mercury and cyanide takes time.
"Thanks to the hard work over many years by the Alliance for Responsible Mining and the dedicated support of forward thinking ethical jewellers themselves, we have been able to bring the first fully traceable supply chains of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to the market.
"With a greater spotlight on this issue, there is every opportunity to upscale this work. In fact, we are already working to bring more mining communities into the programme from the original nine mining organisations in South America to include miners in Africa. However, to succeed, this work must be matched with building up public awareness and consumer demand for Fairtrade and Fairmined gold.
"Even 5% of the gold jewellery market has the potential to support thousands of small-scale and artisanal miners around the world. But as consumer demand for Fairtrade and Fairmined gold grows, then of course we hope to make it the gold of choice on the high street."
Barber also included the following points:
• To date 28 small independent jewellers have signed up to our programme including the world’s oldest jeweller Garrard; pioneering ethical jeweller CRED, luxury jeweller Stephen Webster, Harriet Kelsall, Pippa Small, Ute Decker and Fifi Bijoux.
• To date, nine miners’ organisations, representing 2,500 miners and their families, are being certified under the Fairtrade and Fairmined standards. All of the current producer groups are based in Latin America – in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Fairtrade and Fairmined gold has the potential to reach thousands more artisanal and small-scale miners worldwide. Initially launched in the UK earlier this year, Fairmined and Fairtrade gold will be expanded to other countries across the EU and America from 2011 onwards.
• The international Fairtrade movement and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have created a set of clearly defined standards which must be fulfilled by miners’ organisations to achieve Fairtrade and Fairmined gold certification. The standards cover issues such as working conditions, technology, health and safety, women miners and child labour, management of chemicals and responsibility to the environment and the local community. Mining organisations are audited by the independent international certification body FLO-CERT for ensure they are compliant with the standards.
• The democratic organisation of miners, combined with added premium and increased access to markets, will allow miners’ organisations to improve the technology and working conditions at their mines, and also to develop community projects in education, health, environmental restoration and other forms of income. This will lead to more enduring and sustainable development in mining communities.
• The dual Fairtrade and Fairmined gold certification scheme provides companies with a platform to position themselves at the cutting edge of industry innovation, by demonstrating their commitment to fair sourcing practices to their customers, suppliers and wider stakeholders such as trade bodies and government and shape the supply chains of the future.
• Businesses that source Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold are at the forefront of a growing movement of consumers looking for reassurance that the products they have bought have been manufactured in a sustainable and fair manner. By actively demonstrating a commitment to fair sourcing practices, the British jewellery industry will be seen by their customers and suppliers to be shaping the supply chains of the future. They will be uniquely placed fulfill the currently untapped market demand for responsibly mined gold.
• Artisanal and small-scale miners produce just 10% of global gold supplies, yet account for 90% of labour in gold extraction. They are characterised by high levels of poverty and trapped in unfair supply chains and currently struggle to get a fair price for the gold they extract.
• Companies interested in applying for certification of gold products such as jewellery, commemorative coins, ingots, medals, trophies and religious artefacts should register with the Fairtrade Foundation www.fairtrade.org.uk