Q&A:Greg Valerio on changes to the Fairtrade label

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What the changes mean for licensees & jewellers using ethical metals.

Fairtrade International and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have today announced plans to end their partnership and as a result changes will be made to the labelling of Fairtrade Fairmined precious metals. They will now be labelled as Fairtrade or Fairmined separately. Greg Valerio, co-ordinator for Fairtrade International’s gold programme, answers some key questions.

What is happening between Fairtrade International and ARM?
Greg Valerio: As a result of a partnership review process and taking into account feedback received from both market and mining partners, Fairtrade International and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have decided not to renew their existing formal partnership, but to move to a more flexible model of co-operation.

The decision to end the partnership comes at the natural end of the three year pilot project between ARM and Fairtrade International. We are proud of the accomplishments we have achieved over this time but feel that moving forward we can provide greater opportunities for miners by working independently.

Did ARM and Fairtrade International fall out?

GV: No, together we have built a pioneering initiative that has resulted in positive change for the artisanal and small scale mining sector. We consider ourselves important allies working towards common goals, but going forward, our two organizations hope that by working more independently, yet cooperating wherever possible, we can make greater progress towards further improved terms of trade for disadvantaged miners in the future.

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The fundamental goals of the Fairtrade and the Fairmined systems remain focused on continuing to improve working conditions, environmental standards and terms of trade with ASM mining organisations and providing a growing sustainable source of responsibly mined gold.

Will ARM and Fairtrade still promote fair gold?

GV: Both ARM and Fairtrade International will continue to promote Fairmined gold and Fairtrade Gold, only separately.

How will the change affect gold products in the future?

GV: From April 22 2013 the formal partnership between Fairtrade International and The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) will end, which means the dual label on gold, silver and platinum will be phased out during 2013. From April 22, all products made from certified gold, silver and platinum will be stamped with either the Fairtrade or the Fairmined certification labels or both separately.

What does the end of the partnership mean for current certified miners?
GV: To ensure that miners have continued access to markets and any impacts on their operations are minimised, ARM and Fairtrade International have agreed to a transition period throughout 2013. During this transition period already certified mining groups will continue to be audited by Flo-Cert and their gold is eligible to be traded either as Fairtrade gold or as Fairmined gold to ensure that they have continued access to markets and any impacts on their operations are minimised. As of 2014 miners are free to decide to participate in either the Fairmined or the Fairtrade scheme or in both.

Will miners still be able to sell their gold with a premium?

GV: Yes, miners will still receive a premium for gold sold as certified either Fairtrade or Fairmined as per the existing trading terms. The premium shall be managed through democratic and transparent decision making processes by the miners and other participating stakeholders

What about future certified miners?
GV: Both Fairtrade International and ARM will support new groups to comply with the standards relating to their individual label.

Will miners still follow equally high standards assuring customers that their gold is responsible?
GV: Yes, both the Fairtrade Gold standard and the Fairmined Gold standard will continue to set rigorous requirements in terms of social and labour conditions and environmental practices.

Will miners lose development opportunities?
GV: No, separating out the labels will mean that miners will have greater opportunities as new markets open up, permitting even more miners to benefit from participating in responsible artisanal and small scale mining certification schemes.

Will both Fairtrade International and ARM continue to have a standard for gold?

GV: Yes, both organisations will continue working with their individual revised standards for gold and associated precious metals.

What happens to the currently ongoing standard revision?
GV: The current standards consultation will be continued independently by each organisation. ARM and Fairtrade International will share information on their respective standards work in accordance with their plans and timelines.

If I am already a Fairtrade & Fairmined licensee what happens next?
GV: Fairtrade International and ARM have agreed to a transition period throughout 2013. During this time existing licensees can continue to use the dual label and any promotional material that they have produced with it. Licensees that are registered will be approached by Fairtrade and ARM to update their licensee agreements for use of the respective organisations labels. Each licensee is free to work with either scheme or with both as they choose.

Will it still be possible to purchase Fairtrade & Fairmined gold and jewellery?
GV: Existing stocks of products carrying the dual label Fairtrade & Fairmined will be on sale until they are sold out. All certifiable newly produced gold and jewellery will be eligible for labelling as either Fairmined or Fairtrade. At no point will there be an interruption in the availability of certified labelled gold and jewellery.

How can I purchase Fairtrade gold?
GV: UK businesses should contact the Fairtrade Foundation’s customer services team gold@fairtrade.org.uk for more information or visit the website www.fairtrade.org.uk/gold. International enquiries should be directed to greg@valerio.com, co-ordinator for Fairtrade International’s gold programme.

How will consumers know which gold is responsible and safe to buy and will support responsible miners in the future?
GV: Gold certified as either Fairtrade or Fairmined will continue to provide assurance that it has been mined responsibly, in full compliance with the respective standard, reassuring the consumer that you are supporting miners who are committed to responsible practices.

Will certified gold still provide full traceability from mine to market?
GV: Fully traceable gold from mine to market will continue to be available for labelled finished products.

Anyone with questions is urged to contact Victoria Waugh at the Fairtrade Foundation or Kenneth Porter at the Alliance for Responsible Mining.

 

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