The Rock Hound shows pilot Fairtrade mine representative gold becoming jewellery for the very first time

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Fairtrade licensee jeweller The Rock Hound met with a representative from an East African pilot Fairtrade gold mine and showed him how gold is used to create jewellery.

The Fairtrade Foundation visited The Rock Hound’s studio on Thursday September 15 2016 to introduce a representative from one of the East African pilot Fairtrade Gold mines.

Susi Smither, founder of The Rock Hound, London and Dan Omondi Odida, general secretary, MICODEPRO, Kenya were filmed throughout their time together. The footage will later be used in a short film depicting Dan’s Story and will be produced by The Fairtrade Foundation.

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Dan has been meeting campaigners and businesses to raise awareness of how gold is mined and encouraging people to buy Fairtrade Gold, as part of the Fairtrade organisation’s I DO campaign. The Rock Hound had the chance to talk to Dan about his first hand mining experiences, future plans for MICODEPRO, his community and how Fairtrade has been a positive impact.

The Rock Hound make a living from the raw materials Fairtrade Gold miners produce and are the only jewellers to have met Dan on his fortnight long campaign. The Rock Hound demonstrated to Dan how they make their Fairtrade jewellery collection, GoldRush, from start to finish; they even invited Dan to assist in the creation process. It was the first time Dan had seen gold being used to create jewellery.

MICODEPRO is a co-operative which strive to formalise small-scale minining by improving regulation and making mines safe. MICODEPRO hopes to be Fairtrade certified by early 2017 and The Rock Hound would like to be one of, if not the first jeweller in the UK, to use the Fairtrade Gold mined by MICODEPRO.

Illegal artisanal miners work in small groups or by themselves with minimal or no machinery. The work is dangerous and people risk their lives each day; narrowly avoiding collapsing walls in the mines, falling debris, suffocating from carbon monoxide and even mercury poisoning.

MICODEPRO are currently working towards the Fairtrade Standard for gold and precious metals. This means that their gold will be responsibly mined and that the miners will receive a Fairtrade minimum price and premium, giving their community the opportunity for better living and working conditions.

Another positive influence Fairtrade Foundation have is funding. Most artisanal miners are tied into cycles of debt with the middlemen. These companies loan miners money to buy the equipment they need and then buy back the gold they mine for whatever money they can get. During the knowledge share, Fairtrade spoke of a new funding initiative they have in the pipeline for their members which will hopefully eradicate these difficulties.

“We got a greater understanding of the benefits of being Fairtrade,” comments The Rock Hound founder, Susi Smither. “I hope to use our knowledge in an empathic way by educating not only our customers but sharing the reality that these miners face every day, therefore, encouraging consumers and other jewellers to make the proactive choice to use Fairtrade Gold. Our lives and livelihoods, whilst worlds apart are inextricably linked through gold – and I for one want that link only to be a positive one.”

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