Press Release: The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) announced that the producer requirements in ”Part A” of the Fairtrade & Fairmined standard, the landmark mining standard for the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM) sector, is now officially recognized as a responsible mining standard under the RJC’s chain of custody standard for precious metals. This aims to further incentivize artisanal producers to become certified under the Fairtrade & Fairmined standard, and recognizes the pioneering work of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and Fairtrade International (FLO) in creating this vital program for the sector.
The increasing international focus on conflict-sensitive due diligence has raised concerns that downstream supply chain participants may avoid ASM sourcing, driving ASM producers towards even more informal or even illegal supply chains. To help mitigate these potential impacts, RJC, in cooperation with ARM conducted a review of the comparability of the RJC code of practices standard and the producer requirements in Part A of the Fairtrade & Fairmined standard. A public comment period was held from May to June 2012 to seek input from interested stakeholders, with comments reviewed by the RJC standards committee. As a result, the RJC board has agreed to formally recognize Part A as a ”recognised responsible mining standard” under the RJC chain of custody standard.
The formal recognition of this ASM standard aims to further the work of ARM and FLO with certified artisanal and small-scale producers, particularly in conflict areas. The benefits for these producers will include expanded access to chain-of-custody pathways through to RJC’s membership in the jewelry supply chain. RJC’s chain of custody certified refiners can source from certified ASM producers, confident in the practices at the mine, and thus contribute to the further integration of ASM into the formal economy. This builds on the recommendations of the ”OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains – Supplement on Gold” that all gold supply chain participants support legitimate ASM producers.
When gold is sourced from certified ASM producers under RJC’s chain of custody certification, it will become part of a chain-of-custody gold stream and is not able to be labeled as Fairtrade & Fairmined. For gold to be certified as Fairtrade & Fairmined, additional compliance with the registration, licensing and audit protocol of the fairtrade system will be required. Thus, the RJC recognition enables any available certified ASM production not flowing through the fairtrade system to enter additional formal gold markets, if they choose. A ”Q&A” on the recognition has been developed and is available on the RJC website at: www.responsiblejewellery.com/chain-of-custody-certification
“The review of the producer requirements in the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard has found it to be comparable to the RJC Code of Practices standard in its positive impact on artisanal and small-scale miners. ARM and FLO’s standard contributes to the formalization and professionalization of the ASM sector and RJC is pleased that the chain of custody standard can help further promote certification of ASM producers,” said Michael Rae, RJC’s chief executive.
The RJC is an international not-for-profit organization bringing together more than 400 member companies. RJC and its Members are committed to promoting responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices in a transparent and accountable manner throughout the jewelry industry from mine to retail. This commitment aims to reinforce consumer and stakeholder confidence in diamond, gold and platinum metals jewelry products. The RJC has developed the RJC member certification system, which applies to all members’ businesses that contribute to the diamond, gold and platinum metals jewelry supply chain. All certified members of the RJC are audited by accredited, third party auditors to verify their conformance with the RJC’s code of practices. A voluntary chain of custody standard has also been developed for gold and platinum group metals. The RJC is a full member of the ISEAL Alliance – the global association for sustainability standards. For more information on RJC members, certification and standards please visit www.responsiblejewellery.com.
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