World’s First Fairtrade, Fairmined Gold Mine

April 16, 2013 12:20 am

Fair Jewelery Action (FJA) is a Human Rights and Environmental Justice Organization within the jewelery sector. FJA’s objective is to direct more of the economic impact of the jewelery sector for the regenerating of local economies, in support of cultural preservation and environmental sustainability.

Recognizing that small-scale mining strengthens communities and has the potential to redeem economies in the third world, the FJA will support mining projects enabling miners and their products to reach fair trade certification.

FJA is a program launched in the UK and USA by Fairtrade jewelers and ethical jewelery advocates Greg Valerio and Marc Choyt. Greg has been a pioneer and foundational to the international development and realization of fair trade jewelery and traceable supply chains from mine to retail.

In December 2010, the world has it’s very first Fairtrade Fairmined gold mine in Bolivia. The final sign-off took place by FLO (Fairtrade Labeling Organization) certifying the Cotapata mines, in the mountains of Bolivia, as Fairtrade. This represents a monumental moment in the world of gold mining and responsible jewelry. The work between Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) and Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) has finally proven that a certifiable, traceable and transparent gold supply chain from small scale miners to the end consumer is possible.

This is the first ‘pebble’ that will start an eventual avalanche of opportunities for the marginalized miners in our world. With the logical conclusion being the emergence of a new class of mining sector, namely the Responsible Artisanal Community Based Organization (RACBO). RACBO’s will be as organized, efficient, articulate, as their larger cousins in the large-scale mining sector, but will by default drive more ultimate benefit to the communities and countries they live in. Also, with their direct link through the Fairtrade labeling scheme with the consumer and the jeweler they will have a dedicated route to market for their product.

There are many people to recognize in this achievement. All the dedicated team at ARM, at Fairtrade Foundation, and Fairtrade Labeling, the dedication and commitment of the small scale miners in South America, the Standards Committee who labored long hours in defining what Fairtrade Fairmined gold was going to look like. Also, the many jewelers and jewelry companies who believed in the idea, launched out on a course of being intentionally ethical in their practice long before the international Fairtrade system was able to deliver up a certified mine. Everyone took a risk. That risk has paid off.