The Fairtrade Gold standard represents the pioneering work of the Fairtrade Labeling Organisation. Fairtrade alongside many other international development organisations have worked very diligently to create this ground-breaking opportunity the results of which will create real developmental opportunities for the small-scale miners, their communities and transparent and traceable supplies of gold for jewellers.
Why we need Fairtrade Gold.
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) faces huge challenges in every area. Firstly small-scale miners are the forgotten majority in the mining sector. It is now estimated that over 100 million people globally are dependent on ASM for their livelihoods. ASM is a poverty driven activity with the average daily wage being an estimated $2. Politically national legislators have ignored ASM because it is usually a difficult sector to regulate and control, so advocacy for good legislation is very important to maximize the economic opportunity that ASM presents for southern governments. Also due to the economic vulnerability of miners they are open to exploitation on price by disreputable traders who take advantage of their geographical remoteness and lack of knowledge on pricing to buy cheap gold. Couple all this with the poverty in the sector, the irresponsible use of chemicals like mercury and cyanide in the extraction of the gold, lack of health and safety in ASM and gender inequality, it really is a sector that has needed a fairtrade intervention for many years.
Key areas of focus are traceability of supply, social and environmental improvements, labour standards that include the high-profile issue of child labour as well as minimum prices and trading standards from mine to retail so that we could remove the economic exploitation from the supply chain. Also the democratic structure of the small-scale mining group is very important as it is these groups that will handle the premium payments once we go live within 12 months.
For the detail of what this means for miners I would encourage everyone to read the Fairtrade Gold and Precious Metals Standard that is available for download here. Fairtrade_Gold-and-Precious_Metals_2015-04-15_EN
In headline terms in will mean the following improvements for miners.
- Health & safety requirements
- Gender equality standards
- Organisational transparency and democracy.
- Labour standards
- Environmental standards
- Minimum price of 95% of LBMA daily fix
- Premium paid to mining groups of $2000 USD per kilo
- Transparent and traceable supply chains
- Independent third-party certification
- Producer support for monitoring progress of groups.
Each of these headings are broken down into more detail and then into two sections, minimum requirements that must be complied with to achieve certification and progressive requirements so that each group is focused on making continual improvements over a period of time.
It is expected that this whole evolution in the gold trade will eventually have considerable impacts on the ground for the mining communities as the premium payments will be invested into their own community development projects that impact beyond their immediate coops or family groups. For the consumer of gold jewellery, it will mean an increase in consumer choice, a new market sector that is Fairtrade certified and a brand new industry opportunity to continue to demonstrate its desire to be as ethical as possible.
Who it involves.
The benefits of Fairtrade Gold will positively affect everyone for the good. In short retail brands and jewellers are license holders and will be able to use the marketing collateral of the Fairtrade Gold label on their point of sale.
Traders, refiners, fabricators and manufacturers need to register with FLO-Cert to ensure that the trading standards are being adhered to.
Small-scale miners are the certified producers who mine the gold and associated precious metals, who are the beneficiaries of the Fairtrade premium and minimum price.
This chain of custody approach to jewellery is very different from how the industry has worked in the past, however the mine to retail story for jewellers gives a very real marketing opportunity that has never been available in the gold sector before. A truly unique opportunity for everyone.
Valerio Jewellery is my current offering of bridal and designer collections created exclusively from Fairtrade Certified Gold. As a jeweller who strives to be ethically focused in every aspect of my sourcing efforts, this is the baseline for me. I will only use Fairtrade Gold in my jewellery – simple.
I am of the conviction that this is a very significant development for the Jewellery profession as well as the Fairtrade movement as a whole. For the first time Fairtrade has migrated away from agricultural products and is now operating in the exclusively luxury market of gold and fine jewellery. This will present a new set of challenges in the movement, but these challenges are the bedrock of what makes Fairtrade such a dynamic and entrepreneurial movement. Gold is the oldest market in the world and it demonstrates how Fairtrade has moved from being caricatured as a niche movement and is now swimming in the mainstream of global economics and all areas of commerce. Adam Smith would be proud of us.