Fairtrade Gold and Precious Metals (Fairtrade Gold) is an initiative that aims to support artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) and the communities they live in. ASM mining takes place in remote areas and usually involves poor and vulnerable people – including women and children- and is renowned for severe pollution and harsh working conditions. On top of this, ASM miners often lack access to mining rights, along with financial services, technology and market information that can make their work prosperous and reduce environmental impacts. Many are forced to operate illegally and exploitation by middle men is a frequent occurrence. Development agencies and national authorities have historically made little effort to make the sector sustainable, instead choosing to focus on large-scale mining.
Producer and trade standards
In order to meet the Fairtrade Gold standard, small-scale mining organisations, downstream operators who buy directly from miners and those trading in Fairtrade Gold must meet standards relating to:
- Transparency and physical traceability of their mining operations
- Responsible environmental management
- Democratic decision-making and organisational management
- Working conditions and child labour
- Women's rights
- Clean technology and health safety
Upon meeting the standards, jewellery and gold products can be branded with the Fairtrade Gold mark, and miners receive a guaranteed minimum price of 95% London Bullion Market Exchange (LBMA) plus a Fairtrade premium of USD 2,000 per kilo to put back into project that supports local community or business development.
At this early point in Fairtade Gold, there are two certified Fairtrade Gold mining organisations; AURELSA and SOTRAMI, both operating in Peru. Fairtrade Gold is working on a series of pilot projects with mining groups in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to bring Fairtrade certification to East Africa. These pilot projects are funded in a three-year programme by Comic Relief.
Fairtrade Gold uses FLOCERT as their official auditors -- currently the only auditors that have independently audited artisanal and small-scale mining organisations against the Fairtrade standard for gold and precious metals. FLOCERT is ISO 65 accredited.
A number of other schemes exist for ASM certification, including the International Tin Research Institute’s Tin Supply Chain Initiative, the Fairmined Gold standard operated by the Alliance for Responsible Mining and the Diamond Development Initiative’s Development Diamond Standards with a number of other initiatives under development.