Partnership to encourage European jewellers to use traceable gold.
The Responsible Jewellery Council and non-profit organisation Solidaridad have officially joined forces to ensure better, more transparent and accountable practices throughout the gold supply chain while encouraging larger European branded jewellery companies to make their gold supply traceable.
The project will encourage broader participation in the RJC while a key focus will be Solidaridad’s new pilot project that uses RJC’s Code of Practices and Chain-of-Custody standard as tools for improving practices at industrial gold mines.
Solidaridad will ask mining companies to meet internationally-recognised standards for responsible social and environmental practices and verify those practices through independent audits.
The organisation selected the Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices as the standard in the project, based on the outcome of a 2010 comparison study of standards used by the mining industry in which RJC ranked the highest.
Solidaridad will provide guidance to the companies on setting targets related to implementation of the RJC standards and broader development goals, and on identifying the resources needed to reach those targets.
Training and capacity-building will include topics such as human rights, community engagement, conflict resolution and environmental management. In particular, Solidaridad will work to support the companies’ engagement in meaningful community development.
This may include supporting economically disadvantaged artisanal and small-scale miners in nearby communities to build fairer, safer livelihoods through training and technology transfer.
To encourage mining companies to commit to meeting the RJC Code of Practices, Solidaridad will partner with leading branded jewellery companies that want to ensure that their gold is sourced responsibly.
Together, they will pilot test traceable supply chains from participating mines to the market using RJC’s Chain-of-Custody standard.
In the two-year pilot phase, Solidaridad will work with up to four European jewellery brands and three mining companies.
The lessons learned from this pilot will be useful to other members of the jewellery supply chain and RJC and the outcome will be used to strengthen the RJC system.
Fiona Solomon, director of the RJC’s Standards Development, said: “RJC is pleased to collaborate with Solidaridad on our shared goals of advancing responsible practices in the gold supply chain.
“Solidaridad has been engaging with RJC in its standards development programs for several years and has made important contributions in the areas of responsible sourcing and mining standards. The pilot project will take RJC’s standards to the small to medium scale industrial gold mining sector, and help grow new approaches to responsible sourcing with these enterprises.”
Minera Yanaquihua, a Peruvian-owned company, is the first company to join the project. The company operates an underground gold mine in the Arequipa region of Peru and employs 260 people while more than 1,000 artisanal miners live on and near the company’s concession and may benefit from participation in the project.
Jennifer Horning, international coordinator for Solidaridad’s Gold Programme said: “Solidaridad believes that the RJC system, including the Code of Practices and Chain-of-Custody Standard, offers strong potential as an effective tool for safeguarding communities and the environment and for encouraging meaningful development in regions that host industrial mining companies.
“We are excited about our new pilot project and look forward to working together with RJC and the companies that take part, including front-runner Minera Yanaquihua, to put the system to work and share the lessons learned with others.”