Fairtrade standard launched for gold

The RJC seminar panel will discuss responsible sourcing from mine to retail.

First scheme of its kind to launch in UK before international roll out

Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International and the Alliance for Responsible Mining have launched the first third-party independent certification for gold, which will launch first in the UK.

The new Fairtrade and Fairmined gold standards will mean that interested licensees can apply for certification of gold products, including jewellery. Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will be initially launched in the UK and then rolled out to other countries with a long-term vision of capturing 5 percent of the gold jewellery market over a 15-year period, totalling 15 tonnes of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold annually.

Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will be co-labelled, bearing both marks to present to the consumer the strength of the partnership between the two organisations.

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Fairtrade Foundation director Harriet Lamb said: “Companies and consumers will embrace this golden opportunity to make a real difference to miners’ lives. The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined standards for gold provides a lifeline for communities who find themselves at the mercy of unbalanced markets, when agriculture and other livelihoods are not viable.

“Many face exploitation from middle men who pay below-market prices and cheat them on weight and purity of the gold content. Mining community members lack basic sanitation, clean and safe drinking water, poor housing, little or no access to education and healthcare and are financially unstable. The Fairtrade and Fairmined standards are an important development tool, and will complement other development interventions.”

Fairtrade sales jumped 12 percent last year and Lamb said she believes the UK’s enthuisiasm for fair trade products will extend to jewellery. “Our research shows that customers believe buying jewellery for a special occasion holds greater value and significance if it carried the Fairtrade and Fairmined hallmark. People said that the label reassures both the giver and receiver that the miners are getting a better deal,” she said.

Artisanal and small-scale miners produce just 15 percent of global gold supplies, but make up 90 percent of labour in gold extraction. The introduction of Fairtrade and Fairmined certification will help miners to improve their economic, social and environmental conditions.

The Fairtrade minimum price for the pure gold content in unrefined gold is set at 95 percent of the London Bullion Market Association’s fixing at the FOB export point. Miners will receive a Fairtrade social premium, calculated as 10 percent of the applicable LBMA fixing. For Ecological Gold – gold that has been extracted without the use of chemicals and with strict ecological restoration requirements – an additional ecological premium, calculated as 5 percent of the applicable LBMA fixing on top of the Fairtrade premium must be paid.

Fairtrade claims that there are more than 100 million people who depend directly or indirectly on artisanal and small-scale gold mining, many of whom are trapped in unfair supply chains and struggle to get a fair price for the gold they mine. 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.

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