Happy Birthday Fairtrade Gold

This time last year, the Fairmined mark was launched by the Fairtrade Foundation, and Fairtrade gold took a step towards the mainstream. One year on, the idea is slowly gaining ground. And slowly is the only way it can gain ground, because ethical mining is not an easy thing to certify. To earn that Fairmined mark, the mine of origin has to be inspected, and wages and working conditions checked. The processing has to be done in small batches so the Fairtrade stuff doesn’t get mixed up with other gold, so the refiners have to be inspected and certified too. Then you have to register the manufacturers, to make sure that they’re actually using Fairtrade gold and not something else, so every step along the supply chain is important.

That’s a lot of organising, but it’s well worth it. Mining is a hard business. It is dangerous, dirty work, and considering the value of the end product, miners deserve a decent wage. Processing gold is also heavily polluting, using chemicals that are harmful to the environment and to human health. The Alliance for Responsible Mining demands environmental standards as well as social ones before a mine can be certified Fairtrade, along with health and safety standards and child labour policies. “If people knew just how much harm was happening to artisanal miners all over the world they would never buy normal gold,” says Alan Frampton from ethical jeweler Cred.

So far there are three mines producing Fairtrade gold, with more working towards it. It has a way to go before it’s in the jeweler in your local shopping centre, but it is available from a number of smaller or independent stockists. There’s a list here, and make sure you ask about Fairtrade gold next time you happen to be in a jeweler.

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6 Comments on “Happy Birthday Fairtrade Gold”

  1. cclarenceswinney February 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Since 1980 we borrowed 14,000 Billion. The Tax Book was Christmas Tree filled with goodies for the Rich and Corporations. It is a shame that they take more in Exemptions than they pay in taxes.
    That is why OECD ranks Us:
    #2 as Least Taxed–We pay 30% of GDP in fed—state–local taxes
    #2 as Least Taxed Corporations–In 2011 They paid 1.5% of GDP in taxes
    # 4 on Inequality–10% own almost 80% of our Wealth and take almost 50% of our individual income..80% get the crumbs
    Suggestions:
    1.Fed Fund election–6 months-3 primary- 3 general-free equal tv time-one debate a week=12-adequate to evaluate candidates no $$ no pacs
    2.Members of Congress and White House can accept nothing with a financial value.
    Keep them on the job not on the road
    3.Progressive Flat Tax(by group)–tax to pay our way not leave for kids to pay
    4.Burn Tax Book–gets enough added revenue to have a surplus to attack the debt

    Yes! Simple. Yes Effective.
    only bug I find is how to choose candidates.

  2. Karen Williams February 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    So does Fairmined stop it being dangerous, dirty, polluting, and harmful to the environment and humans or just reduce it a little and pay a little more in wages (as a kind of compensation)? Does Fairmined now make it ‘fair’ on employees and our environment or merely ‘less unfair’?
    You say the Fairmined process is well worth it. But is the gold worth it’s weight on the earth and the people? I know we are not able to stop this kind of ridiculous human behaviour but I can’t help asking the questions. Is that o.k.?

    • David Crump February 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Karen
      Your questions are valid. I thik that’s why there has been so much attention paid to the fairtrade fairmined eco gold from Columbia. It is mined in an environmentally friendly was (no use of mercury). You can find out more here:
      http://www.greengold-oroverde.org

  3. Jeremy February 14, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    No harm in asking questions, and you’ll find some of your answers on the Fairtrade gold FAQ: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/gold/about_us/qa.aspx

    Of course it isn’t possible to make gold mining environmentally neutral or entirely safe, so whether you think it’s worth it or not is subjective really. Personally, I have no interest in gold and won’t be buying any, fairtrade or not. But the market for gold isn’t going anywhere and anything that makes it better is welcome in my book.

  4. Karen Williams February 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Thank you both. Naturally, anything better is better! As usual, I know there is more underlying my questions/comments than I feel able to say in short blogs. I just feel we are often in danger of seeing too much in too little and we may be being gullible or complacent and accepting far too little. Though I have no better answers to these issues, I feel compelled to question, but would not want you (J) to think I am just being atagonistic. KW

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