Fairtrade certified gold comes from artisanal and small-scale mining organisations (ASMOs) that meet the Fairtrade Standard for Gold and Precious Metals.
Unfortunately, these miners have traditionally been characterised by poverty, exploitation, hazardous working conditions using dangerous chemicals, and even illegal operations.
During 2016 we joined the Goldsmiths Registration Scheme to make many of our cast jewellery designs available in Fairtrade Gold. Here’s Why…
1. Benefits to the Individual Miner
Fairtrade standards require the mines to follow strict health and safety regulations in order to make conditions safe for the miners to work in. Specifically:
Child labour must be eliminated from Fairtrade mines. No one under 15 years old can be contracted to work in the mining organisation. Those under 18 must not work in hazardous or dangerous conditions.
Fairtrade certification requires mandatory use of protective gear and health and safety training for all miners.
Miners must use safe and responsible practices for management of toxic chemicals.
Miner’s organisations recognise the right of all workers to establish and join trade unions, and collectively negotiate their working conditions.
- Miners receive a fair wage, and fair working hours.
2. Benefits to the wider mining community.
An estimated 100 million people worldwide including miners, their families and their communities benefit from the money earned from mining.
Traditionally small-scale miners are at the end of long and complex supply chains, and for those working in remote locations it can be difficult to sell their gold at a fair price. For Fairtrade Gold, miners receive a guaranteed Fair Minimum Price and premium to spend on improving their businesses or on community projects such as education, clean water and healthcare. This can help them to improve their mining and business practices as well as open the market to generate more sales on better terms.
3. The Big Picture - Environmental Benefits.
90% of the labour force involved in gold mining is made up of Artisanal and small-scale miners who produce between 200-300 tonnes of gold each year. Chemicals including cyanide and mercury are often used in extracting gold from the ore. When mercury is used in extraction, almost all of it is released into the environment which renders water supplies deadly and unusable. By working with Artisanal mines Fairtrade is is educating miners to the risks and helping to provide equipment in order to safely handle chemicals. Fairtrade also advise alternative methods which do not require the hazardous chemicals.
Alongside these hazardous chemicals, there are pollutants produced in the mining and extraction processes which are also released into the environment. Fairtrade are researching and implementing systems to reduce emission of pollutions to make mining a cleaner process for the environment.
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