Small-scale miners now recognised by RJC standard

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Scheme to promote small ethical gold sources not covered by Fairtrade.

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has announced today that the producer requirements in Part A of the Fairtrade and Fairmined Standard, the landmark mining standard for the small-scale gold mining sector, is now officially recognised as a Responsible Mining Standard under the RJC Chain of Custody (CoC) Standard for precious metals.

This RJC said that this aims to further incentivise artisanal producers to become certified under the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard.

The group said that an increasing international focus on conflict-sensitive due diligence has raised concerns that downstream supply chain participants might avoid Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASM) sourcing, driving ASM producers towards even more informal or even illegal supply chains. To help mitigate these potential impacts, the RJC, in cooperation with Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) conducted a review of the comparability of the RJC Code of Practices standard and the producer requirements in Part A of the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard.

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A public comment period was held from May to June 2012 to seek input from interested stakeholders, with comments reviewed by the RJC Standards Committee. As a result, the RJC Board has agreed to formally recognise Part A of the Fairtrade and Fairmined Standard as a Recognised Responsible Mining Standard under the RJC CoC Standard.

The formal recognition of this ASM standard aims to further the work of ARM and FLO with certified artisanal and small-scale producers, particularly in conflict areas. The benefits for these producers will include expanded access to chain-of-custody pathways through to RJC’s Membership in the jewellery supply chain.

RJC CoC Certified refiners can source from certified ASM producers, confident in the practices at the mine, and thus contribute to the further integration of ASM into the formal economy. This builds on the recommendations of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains – Supplement on Gold that all gold supply chain participants support legitimate ASM producers.

When gold is sourced from certified ASM producers under RJC Chain-of-Custody Certification, it will become part of a CoC gold stream and is not able to be labelled as Fairtrade and Fairmined. For gold to be certified as such additional compliance with the registration, licensing and audit protocol of the Fairtrade system will be required. Thus the RJC recognition enables any available certified ASM production not flowing through the Fairtrade system to enter additional formal gold markets, if they choose.

RJC chief executive Michael Rae said: “The review of the producer requirements in the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard has found it to be comparable to the RJC Code of Practices standard in its positive impact on artisanal and small-scale miners. ARM and FLO’s standard contributes to the formalisation and professionalisation of the ASM sector and RJC is pleased that the CoC standard can help further promote certification of ASM producers.”

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