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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Demand grows for 'clean' gold
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 The gold industry must clean up its act or risk losing customers, according to a new poll for aid agency CAFOD. A YouGov poll reveals the consumer shift towards ethical products includes gold jewellery with over one in four people (28%) claiming they would buy Fairtrade gold on sale, even it means paying more. With UK consumers expected to buy around six million items of gold jewellery in the run up to Christmas, one in three people (35%) say they would choose to shop at stores that were concerned about how their gold is produced. Sonya Maldar, CAFOD's extractives analyst, said: "The poll results send a clear message to jewellery retailers that they can't afford to ignore their customers' wishes for clean gold. It's now up to the retailers to work within the industry to ensure that the gold they sell is produced without harming people and devastating the environment." CAFOD's own research shows how rather than benefiting local people, all too often, gold mining causes environmental destruction and generates social conflict. In Honduras, communities' water supplies have been contaminated with cyanide and arsenic as a result of gold mining. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 1,200 people die every day from conflict-related disease, hunger and violence, where war has been fuelled by the struggle for gold and other minerals. Gold mining companies are failing to consult local communities about their future plans which risks inflaming social tensions and causing further conflict. But UK consumers are all too often unaware of these problems. Half the population (49%) claim they hadn't really thought about where the gold in their jewellery comes from. But when asked about corporate responsibility the poll revealed that two out of three people (65%) believe gold mining companies should be responsible for limiting any environmental damage caused by their operations. By highlighting the huge social and environmental costs of gold mining, CAFOD's Unearth Justice campaign is calling on both mining companies and UK jewellers to clean up the industry. With 80 percent of the gold mined each year ending up in jewellery, CAFOD believes retailers can play an important part in improving standards in the industry. Jewellery retailers and mining companies now have an opportunity to adopt an industry standard based on the No Dirty Gold campaign's 'Golden Rules.' These include respect for human rights and free, prior and informed consent for affected communities. So far only a handful of UK retailers have formally signed up to the Golden Rules by endorsing the campaign sourcing policy. Maldar said: "Consumers are now increasingly savvy when it comes to ethical standards, which is why companies need to show they are serious about change. We hope that the UK's leading jewellery retailers will not only sign up to the Golden Rules but work actively with their suppliers and mining companies to set new and robust standards for the gold industry. Growing understanding of these issues means it's in their best interests to take action now."
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