Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold Become a Reality

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*Valentine’s Day 2011:
That which has never moved is now moving!*

Two weeks ago a South American gold mining cooperative in Cotapata, Bolivia became the first ever Certified Fairtrade gold mine in the world and lastweek the Condoto Iró Community Council from the Oro Verde (Green Gold) initiative, were issued their Fairtrade and Fairmined certificates for Ecological Gold

These certifications represent a breakthrough in recognizing and valuing responsible mining practices, a breakthrough in a fair opportunity for artisanal and small scale miners, their families and communities everywhere, and a breakthrough in a world where we have repeatedly turned a blind eye to the lack of integrity behind the goods and services we buy.

Distinct from any time before, people now will be able to purchase jewelry they can fully cherish and be proud of where it came from and what it represents, jewelry created from gold that has been independently certified to have been mined and processed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner where the miners have been paid a premium for their stewardship of the land and for developing model, sustainable communities.

A difference is being made.

Artisanal and small-scale miners produce about 15% of world gold supplies annually yet comprise roughly 90% of the workforce in gold extraction. These artisanal miners are traditionally marginalized, are often forced to mine illegally and are among the worlds most poor and disadvantaged. The launch of Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold provides a lifeline for communities who find themselves at the mercy of volatile markets when agriculture and other livelihoods are not viable.

Jorge Perea, community leader of Oro Verde in Condoto, Colombia said: ‘We consider Fairtrade and Fairmined certification meets the needs of miners seeking to improve their quality of life and strengthen our identity as an ethnic group, which was the aim of this worldwide process inspired by Oro Verde. Thanks to the hard work
of ARM to gather the efforts of the mining communities in Latin America and the alliance with the Fairtrade system, we celebrate the launch of a label that makes our common dream come true. The golden doors of fairness are now open for all the small miners in the world’.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said:
‘The reality of gold production is at complete odds with what consumers imagine. Consumers care about the conditions faced by miners. This is why Fairtrade and Fairmined gold has the potential to tackle unfair supply chains, improve working and environmental conditions and deliver tangible and sustainable economic benefits to impoverished communities. Now that is what I call a labor of love.’

Quoted from the Oro Verde website, ‘Green Gold Products go beyond the sphere of beauty to locate us in a world of means and senses where one of the most biodiverse and needed regions in the planet is socially and environmentally protected.’

There is a growing band of jewelers, designers and goldsmith that have embarked on a mission to have the jewelry industry be accountable and responsible for creating and selling jewelry that has a transparent chain of custody without abuse, neglect or disregard for the earth or its people. Obviously the task is daunting and still is completely worth the time, effort and attention. This travesty has been happening on our watch and it’s our issue to address.

That you have read this far has me suspect that you’re someone who has an active commitment to life working and I appreciate the courage required to take actions in the face of seemingly insurmountable forces and circumstances. Here are a couple of links that provide further opportunities for ethical action.

http://www.nodirtygold.org/
http://www.fairjewelry.org/
http://www.earthworksaction.org/home.cfm

Thanks for your commitment!

Toby Pomeroy

americo