The world’s first independent, ethical certification system for responsibly mined gold –- Fairtrade and Fairmined gold -– is celebrating a first anniversary. The group estimated that retail sales in the U.K. of all Fairtrade products in 2011 rose 12 percent year on year to $2 billion (GPB 1.32 billion). Sales of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold bullion reached an estimated $1.1 billion (GBP 700,000) in 2011.
During its first year in the jewelry sector though, the Fairtrade Foundation was able to score a place on the “Green Carpet Challenge” at the 2011 Academy Awards. Four gold mining organizations have become certified and an additional two are currently going through the inspection process and will enter the system in May. The organization’s efforts have laid the ground work for 350 kilograms of gold per year that will soon be available for jewelers.
Other benefits from Fairtrade and Fairmined gold this past year were evident for the people living in the isolated Peruvian community of Santa Filomena. Sotrami, the first Peruvian mining organization to be certified, began working with Cred Jewellery in the U.K. and due to the Fairtrade premium, the community was able to invest in healthcare, build an extension to the primary school and bought computers for the senior school. They opened a not-for-profit convenience store, which means the 500-strong community can buy food at reasonable prices.
Retailers and jewelers say customers have responded positively to the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold program and supplies of ethical gold are set to increase further. Thanks to a grant of $1.3 million (GBP 820,318) from Comic Relief over the next three years, the Fairtrade Foundation will be partnering with Fairtrade Africa, the Alliance for Responsible Mining and Solidaridad to develop gold supplies from artisanal and small-scale miners in Africa.
This grant program will work with eight mining groups in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to develop their technical skills to improve hazardous working conditions. Training will also concentrate on eliminating child labor and create a more democratic organization of the mining groups. This will mean that gold mined by impoverished African artisanal and small- scale miners can get into international markets through transparent supply chains.