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Last Updated:[19-03-2010 02:55:01 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Fairtrade Enters Gold Market with New Standard

tradenews The Fairtrade Foundation, a market-based social organization has announced that it had jointly developed a gold standard with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), a coalition of individuals and organizations for safe mining to help more than 100mn people of the artisanal and small-scale (A&S) dependent mining community. According to the recent Fairtrade’s press release, the first ever, third party independent certification for gold is expected to bring about social, environmental and economic development to the A&S communities.

The release said Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), the standards and certification wing of the Fairtrade movement has collaborated with the ARM for the successful completion of the certification program. Through the new standard, gold products including jewellery, coins and religious artefacts will be essentially certified and labelled with the FAIRTRADE and FAIRMINED (F&F) marks.

The F&F marked gold products are hoped to emancipate the A&S miners from the ugly grip of middlemen who deprive them of obtaining proper value for their merchandise. The brand is believed to provide an opportunity for consumers to indirectly involve in a social cause without shelling out anything extra. The proceeds of the organized and increased market access are also understood to radically change the mining methods.

Surprisingly, the A&S miners annually produce just 15 percent of global gold supplies, but their labour effort constitutes 90 percent of gold extraction. Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade said many in the trade were exploited by the middle men who pay below market prices and cheated them on weight and purity of the gold content. He added the F&F standards were an important development tool, and would complement other development interventions such as access to basic amenities to the communities.

Similarly, Cristina Echavarria, the ARM´s Executive Director, said the F&F program was providing a win-win platform for both A&S miners through their workmanships and consumers with their jewellery purchases. The program also promotes ethical consumer habits by making them aware of what they buy and how the proceeds of the same are utilized.

The F&F gold will be initially launched in the UK and then rolled out to other countries with a long term vision of capturing 5 percent of the gold jewellery market over a 15-year period, totalling 15 tonnes of the F&F gold annually. The standard was piloted by the ARM with nine legally established mining producer organizations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and now applications are open to all A&S gold mining organizations in Latin America. More producer organizations from Latin America are expected to join the system by 2011 and beyond, and from 2010 the ARM plans to establish a network of pilot projects in Africa, and subsequently in Asia.

By Jose Roy

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