This week British campaigners will be calling on some of the world's largest gold companies to act to clean up the gold industry. The call comes as the Council of Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP), a unique body consisting of gold industry representatives from mine to shop, develops industry standards that could tackle much of the harm often caused by gold mining.
CAFOD is asking campaigners to go the extra mile and send postcards to the United States to the Chair of the CRJP, Matthew Runci to demand standards are strong enough to change the industry. Currently, jewellers cannot say with confidence how the gold in their products is mined and what destruction it may have caused.
CAFOD is campaigning to highlight the hidden harm caused by gold mining and to get governments and multinational businesses to give poor communities a much greater say in whether gold is mined, how is it mined and who benefits.
Already over 100 high street shops have been presented with petitions that include 45,000 signatures calling on jewellers to take action Over 25 jewellers worldwide have responded and have signed up to rules which could clean up the industry. Mining the gold for one ring can create 18 tonnes of waste (equivalent of two double-decker buses) that may leach toxic metals and acid. CAFOD has also found evidence of cyanide and arsenic pollution, people being forced from their homes and environments being destroyed by large scale gold mining activities.
Helen Wolfson, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD, said: "We need standards that will mean real change for people living around gold mines if the CRJP doesn't produce strong standards which can be independently verified this will be a missed opportunity. We urge all campaigners to send postcards to the US to demonstrate how important clean gold is to consumers in the UK. Campaigners have already persuaded jewellers to support the campaign and it is now time for the whole industry act."
Britons spend 2bn on gold jewellery every year. A poll done on behalf of the charity found that one in four people claimed they would buy Fairtrade gold on sale, even if it meant paying more.