Fairtrade/Fairmined certified gold gives new hope to miners

14 February 2011

The world’s first Fairtrade and Fairmined gold goes on sale today in a groundbreaking effort to secure a fair deal for gold miners and their communities. Twenty businesses in the UK and one in Canada will be the first to stock jewellery made of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold.

As the price for the precious metal surges on world markets, hundreds of thousands of workers are lured to seek their fortune in one of the world’s most dangerous industries. Sadly, because of their vulnerable position in the supply chain, it is not the miners who benefit most from this ‘21st century goldrush’.

Many of the estimated 15 million people working in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector risk disease, serious injury and death. ASM miners also face exploitation by unscrupulous middle men.

Full details of the conditions faced by ASM miners are revealed in a new report published today by our UK member organization, Fairtrade Foundation, and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM). Read the full report here (PDF 7.3MB).

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) states there are over six times the number of accidents in ASM compared with large scale mining, mainly due to larger labour force and poorer working conditions. Furthermore there are severe risks to health caused by daily contact with toxic chemicals used to process gold, such as mercury, cyanide and nitric acid.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation UK, said: ‘The reality of gold production is at complete odds with what consumers imagine. Consumers care about the conditions faced by miners. This is why Fairtrade and Fairmined gold has the potential to tackle unfair supply chains, improve working and environmental conditions and deliver tangible and sustainable economic benefits to impoverished communities.’

Being part of the Fairtrade and Fairmined system means miners will adhere to a set of Fairtrade standards which FLO and ARM developed and published in March 2010. The standards insist that gold is produced in a way that is safe for people and the environment.  In return, miners will receive a set minimum Fairtrade price for their gold, plus the Fairtrade Premium to invest in community and business development projects. They will also establish long-term business relationships with their commercial partners. 

Jorge Perea, community leader of Oro Verde in Condoto, Colombia said:  ‘We consider Fairtrade and Fairmined certification meets the needs of miners seeking to improve their quality of life and strengthen our identity as an ethnic group, which was the aim of this worldwide process inspired by Oro Verde. Thanks to the hard work of ARM to gather the efforts of the mining communities in Latin America and the alliance with the Fairtrade system, we celebrate the launch of a label that makes our common dream come true. The golden doors of fairness are now open for all the small miners in the world’.

For more information on Fairtrade and Fairmined gold visit www.fairgold.org/

You can also read the FLO fact sheet or review the Gold standards here.

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