Fairtrade publishes new precious metals standards

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Revised standards to help widen reach and use of ethical metals.

Fairtrade International has published new standards and premiums for gold, silver and precious metals that it says will help grow the market for small-scale miners around the world.

The new Fairtrade Standards were developed through lengthy consultations with 150 internal and external stakeholders including representatives from artisanal and small-scale mining organisations, local support organisations, and national Fairtrade organisations, traders, jewellery companies, NGOs and mining experts.

Fairtrade International gold programme coordinator Greg Valerio said: “The revised standards create a landmark opportunity for the jewellery industry to show they are willing to do the right thing by sourcing from transparent and traceable supplies of gold.

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“It’s exciting that – for the first time – alloyed and fabricated gold will become more widely available and cost effective for licensees to buy. More availability means more sales of Fairtrade gold for miners, helping change lives. We are proud that Fairtrade is at the forefront of the responsible mining and jewellery movement and aims to address deeply embedded, long-term issues in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Only by working together will we be able to see the true value of gold, transform the livelihoods of communities that have been negatively affected by the injustices currently at work in the gold supply chain".

According to the revised standards, Fairtrade’s current model for fully traceable gold will remain the core business model for Fairtrade gold. All operators will continue to be registered within the Fairtrade system and audited against the standards. Final products will be certified and punched with the Fairtrade Mark stamp after approval.

Goldsmiths’ Registration Scheme
The new standards have also introduced the Goldsmith’s Registration Scheme, as outlined in this month’s issue of Professional Jeweller, for jewellers or firms that use less than 500 grams of gold or 2kg of certified silver. Under the scheme, a master operator becomes the Fairtrade licensee and sells semi-finished Fairtrade certified gold or silver products to small jewellers.

Sheets, wires, and other semi-finished products would be stamped with the Fairtrade Gold Mark by the master operator and sold to goldsmiths, who would be registered with Fairtrade but would not be subject to an audit or be required to pay license fees. The small operators would not be allowed to stamp products themselves with the Fairtrade Gold Mark, but they could use in-store messaging to consumers. This is scheduled to come into effect in early 2014.

Updates to invoices
There has also been an update to Fairtrade invoicing, with new requirements in the standards to separate out the value of the Fairtrade Premium on invoices. This has been done to help prevent Fairtrade gold costs escalating for operators down the supply chain.

The new Fairtrade Premium
The Fairtrade Premium is now a fixed price of US$2,000 per kilogram, instead of a percentage (10%) of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) on the day of trade. This has been done to help keep the price differential at a reasonable level and enable small-scale miners to sell more Fairtrade gold, resulting in more tangible benefits for their communities to drive more benefits for miners. A wedding ring bearing the Fairtrade Gold Mark may now only cost an estimated $15-20 more than a non-Fairtrade ring at the retail level.

Wider global reach
The new Standard is now also applicable to the entire global south instead of just Latin America, where all of Fairtrade’s currently certified mining organizations are based. The new standard opens the way for the certification of mining organizations in Africa over the next few years.

The ability to self-define
Until now, the Fairtrade Standard was prescriptive in terms of what form a small-scale mining organisation could take. Under the new standard, organisations are free to define themselves legally. This has been changed to reflect the fact that different countries have different legal frameworks in particular in Africa, and artisanal and small scale mining organizations need a degree of choice when it comes to these stipulations.

Additional responsibilities for the mining community
The new standard also aims to increase the role of the mining organisation in the local community. The mining community includes workers in the mine, in processing, and in the geographical region. This instils a sense of responsibility for issues beyond the immediate mining processes. Now, mining organisations can involve local community groups to help increase their involvement in Fairtrade Premium projects and will help in identifying and targeting specific needs in the community.

The increased role of the mining organisation in the community will be under constant review by a Technical Advisory Group comprising experts in artisanal and small-scale mining, child labour and forced labour, environmental stewardship related to ASM among others, and a formal review will come in 2018.

Fairtrade has recently created a technical group that will be working closely with our mining partners with specific focuses on mercury eradication, the identification, remediation and elimination of child labour and the ongoing development and improvement of the Fairtrade Standard.
 

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