Miners get Fairtrade markMay 2010
The first certification system for artisanal gold mining has been created by the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) in an attempt to impose some order on small-scale mining operations and ensure they receive better prices.
The two bodies say the aim is to alleviate poverty among communities that depend on artisanal gold, to minimise its environmental impacts, and to make it traceable for consumers.
Gold products, from jewellery to religious artefacts, will be labelled as both Fairtrade and ‘Fairmined’. The Fairtrade Foundation and ARM hope to expand the system to capture five per cent of the UK gold jewellery market by 2025.
Artisanal mining refers to small-scale producers operating largely without machinery, and involves around 100 million people worldwide. Artisanal miners account for only 15 per cent of global gold supplies but 90 per cent of the labour in gold extraction.
Small-scale mining operations that go for certification under the new system will be given access to improved technology, help to organise collective bargaining among miners, and advice on avoiding the use of toxic chemicals. Conflict gold will be excluded from certification.
Companies that buy off certified suppliers will stick to a minimum price of 95 per cent of the London Bullion Market Association rate, and will pay producers a ten per cent ‘social premium’ on this rate.
The scheme is the result of pilots in South America, where it will initially be rolled out. A network is expected to be established eventually in Africa and Asia.
Elsewhere in the mining sector, tin industry companies, buyers and end users have introduced a trading scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to guard against armed groups that are profiting from mines.
Companies including Apple, IBM and Sony have signed up to prove that the tin used in their electronics is not sourced from military groups in the DRC, whom the Global Witness pressure group describe as operating ‘mafia-style extortion rackets’, especially in tin trading.
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