Gold- a glistening new light in the Fairtrade world
The mining of gold has long been controversial in ethical terms, where widespread poor labour conditions and child labour are commonplace. The new Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold certification has been introduced to help ensure decent working conditions and pay for artisanal and small scale miners (ASM). ASMs are miners who do not necessarily use technology and skill, but use hard work to gain their crops. ASM miners are often at the bottom of the pile in terms of wealth and receive very low money for the gold they yield. Poverty is commonplace amongst these miners and with it comes poor health and sanitation.
The new label aims to strengthen the miners’ organisations in order to improve their bargaining power and ensure they have a more say over their place in the supply chain. The label aims to eliminate child labour under the age of 18 and improve general working conditions, including regulating the use of chemicals. This new process also aims to encourage mining businesses to participate in community projects and address women’s equality issues.
The certification is undertaken jointly by FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International) and ARM, the Alliance for Responsible Mining. So far, the partnership has been working with miners in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, but it is expected to also work with more Latin American and then African and Asian countries in the near future.
The certification aims to create a more transparent supply chain where customers can be sure that the gold they purchase has been ethically sourced. All Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold will carry a jewellery mark to signify this.
This will all come as a relief to those who have been avoiding gold or feeling guilty about the gold we have bought in the past. This new label gives us the opportunity to improve the working conditions of small scale miners and in turn, improve the gold mining industry at large.