RAPAPORT… Fairtrade International will unveil its new standard and pricing for gold, silver and platinum and new ways of working with the jewelry industry at a roundtable discussion in London on October 9 and 10. The organization distributed new design labels for Fairtrade gold, platinum and silver, using a green accented tab with the name of the precious metal set in black. The Fairtrade marks can also be applied to certified gold, platinum and silver that must adhere to eco standards, while ”Eco Marks” can be used for precious metals that have been extracted without the use of chemicals, following strict ecological restoration requirements.
When the group meets in London, there will be attendees from seven mines out of Bolivia, Peru and Colombia representing four Fairtrade mining cooperatives and a Fairtrade pilot project in East Africa. Primarily, organizers anticipate that mining representatives will meet with key industry stakeholders to agree on how to pioneer and grow the Fairtrade gold program in order to bring greater benefits to impoverished and marginalized small-scale miners.
Discussions will address how to introduce a program to eradicate mercury within the Fairtrade gold program and protect human health and the environment from poisonous mercury vapors. This meeting was scheduled two days before the Minamata Convention on Mercury will be adopted and opened for signatures at a diplomatic conference in Japan from October 10 to 11.
The London meeting will also introduce Fairtrade’s ecological support program and lay out early plans for the development of new centers of excellence for the training for small-scale miners in how to become a responsible Fairtrade gold mining organization.
One gold miner from Uganda said that prior to the Fairtrade movement, small-scale miners have been mining haphazardly, digging shafts without proper support. ”We had pits that kept collapsing all the time, as the walls collapse in the rain. We hope through Fairtrade we will learn how to do things differently,” according to The Fairtrade Foundation. The miner’s group of workers earn less than $1 a day, which is not enough to live on in Uganda, let alone make investments in creating a safer environment.
The Fairtrade Foundation determined that small-scale gold mining is one of the world’s most disadvantaged sectors and provides an economic lifeline to more than 15 million miners and seasonal income for 100 million workers.
Fairtrade gold program coordinator, Greg Valerio, said, ”For me, Fairtrade is the best gold story in the world and all players in the jewelry industry need to get behind it. Too often we are unaware of our power to change people’s lives, of our connection with people across the world as we treat ourselves to a new piece of sparkling jewelry here in the U.K. Our roundtable is a great opportunity for the industry to speak to the Fairtrade miners and support this revolution in responsibly mined gold.”
Valerio added that he is already seeing more gold being bought on Fairtrade terms, which means more alloyed and fabricated gold will become widely available and cost effective for Fairtrade licensees to buy, resulting in more products on sale to consumers. ”The market has been asking for a simplified labeling scheme to maximize potential. We have listened to our partners and believe the new Fairtrade precious metals marks will help build greater market share and consumer awareness.”
The Fairtrade premium on fine gold has changed to a set figure of $2,000 per kilogram of fine gold bought from the mines. The Fairtrade minimum price for gold remains at 95 percent of the London bullion market price. The Fairtrade minimum price and premium for silver and platinum has not been amended as part of this review. New Fairtrade standards for gold and precious metals will be made available here: http://www.fairtrade.net/standards.html