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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Fairtrade Gold – a glimmer of hope?
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We all like a touch of glitter in life. Last year alone, we spent £92 billion globally on gold jewellery. That’s one big ‘I love you’!

But behind the gleaming metal is a darker reality. The people who mine it are a long way from wealth and power, and more importantly, a fair deal.

Much of the 2,500 plus tonnes of gold mined each year is produced by multi-national companies. Their methods reshape vast areas of land, but employ relatively few people.

In contrast, around 100 million men, women and children depend on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) for survival. 90 per cent of the world’s gold miners are ASM miners. Most are poor, forced into mining because there is no alternative way to make a living. And they’re vulnerable to exploitation by middlemen and exclusion from land granted to big mining companies.

Health and safety is a big issue. Many ASM miners are poorly trained, don’t have access to safety gear or medical care, and are at constant risk from rock falls, faulty machinery and toxic chemicals like mercury and cyanide.

CAFOD  together with many other Christian charities has now joined together yo promote Fairmined.  The Fairtrade and Fairmined Mark means that gold has been mined, processed and traded in a fair and responsible manner. The standards require:

    * Stronger miners’ organisations: better bargaining power with traders and a fairer return for their produce.

    * Child labour regulations: compliance with International Labour Organisation and national regulations. This generally means no child under 15 can work in mining and all underground workers must be over 18.

    * Improved working conditions: mandatory protective gear and health and safety training for all miners to reduce risk in the work place and improve emergency response.

    * Freedom of association and collective bargaining: right to establish and join trade unions and collectively negotiate working conditions.

    * Responsible use of chemicals: minimum and safe use of chemicals like mercury and cyanide in gold recovery. Where chemical use is eliminated, miners earn an ecological premium.

    * Transparent supply chain: the first transparent and traceable supply chain for ASM.

Campaigns like CAFOD’s Unearth Justice campaign raised awareness of the problems that gold mining can bring and the changes needed in countries where our partners work. Thousands petitioned high street jewellers, mining companies and politicians to give poor communities a greater say in how gold is mined.

These incredible efforts showed the jewellery industry that people wanted their gold mined without harming communities or the environment. CAFOD also supported the Fairtrade Foundation during development of the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold mark, pushing for rigorous and ambitious standards.

The certification gives ASM miners and their employers the chance to improve working conditions and maintain safe, responsible practices. It ensures miners receive a fair, regular wage, and that their communities benefit. To date, nine miners’ organisations, representing 2,500 miners and their families are being certified. In the UK, we can begin to have confidence that the gold in at least some of the products we buy has been mined responsibly with miners are getting a fair deal.

Fairtrade and Fairmined gold standards concentrate on ASM miners, so they won’t deal with all the problems in the global industry. This year’s production will be a tiny fraction of all gold mined but we want it to be a catalyst for change within the large-scale gold industry. By giving consumers a choice about the gold they buy and showing it is possible to trace gold along the supply chain, Fairtrade and Fairmined gold can provide a strong incentive for improving practices at mine sites around the world.

Find out more at

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Tags: CAFOD, Fairtrade Gold

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