The Alliance for Reponsible Mining is the certifying body that governs Fairmined. When Fairtrade and Fairmined were initially together (see Fairtrade and Fairmined below) ARM worked with FLOCERT (see below) to write the set of standards that defined their criteria for which mines had to comply with in order to be certified.
Artisanal Small Scale Mining. ASM’s (artisanal small scale mines) usually consist of small groups, often in impoverished rural locations that lack resources or state support to establish and maintain safe working or environmental standards. The prevalence of child miners and prolonged exposure to neurotoxic mercury and cyanide within ASM’s is an example of this. This is why many argue it is essential to support ASM’s by purchasing from them through sourcing schemes that have established equitable trade relationships with them and have ensured they have systems in place for safer working environments.
It is important to note that although it benefits the miners lives (by having safer working standards, fair wages and premiums, access to the market and ability to form collective actions) becoming a certified mining organisation is a process for the miners that requires investment and training.
The ASM must comply to standards laid out by the certifying body, such as Fairtrade or Fairmined. They must also be producing enough raw material to export and their part in the supply chain must been documented for traceability. As part of this process the ASM must form an Artisanal Small Scale Mining Organisation (ASMO) in order to establish a governance, manage capital, permits, license and standards compliance.
Characteristics of Artisanal Small Scale Mining:
- Minimal machinery or technology used
- Lack of formality and legality (less regulation)
- Lower productivity than large scale mining because smaller mines have limited machinery and technology and more labour intensive techniques
- Economic insecurity and vulnerable to raids and violence because lack of external
Certified Accreditation Schemes
These are systems put in place to regulate the relations between material producers (such as miners) and trading companies (buyers of the product). Accreditation systems are linked to sets of standards either written by the scheme body or adopted from another. These standards must be maintained by the producing agent (mine/miners) in order to be certified by the accreditation scheme. A certifying scheme should have an established auditing system in place, ideally a third part auditor, to ensure compliance to their standards and transparency.
Conflict minerals, such as gold, are minerals that are extracted from the earth within conflict zones (areas that characteristically experience violence and/or warfare) and because of complex supply chains and a lack of transparent trade routes within these areas, they become profitable commodities for warlords and militia leaders. Conflict minerals perpetuate violence in these regions by becoming valuable to warlords who then use them to finance violence and war. Tin, tungsten, cobalt and gold are the major conflict minerals. Read the UK Gov’s guidance on conflict minerals here.
There is an ‘eco’ category of metals for both the Fairtrade and Fairmined standards for gold and associated precious metals that is written into their certification standards. It is a further certification that mines can register for beyond the standard certification which certifies that there is no use of mercury or cyanide in the mining process.
Makers should note that Eco Fairmined or Eco Fairtrade Gold should not to be confused with the branded terms ‘ecosilver’ or ‘ecogold’, which are Cooksongold’s recycled metal products.
A certified metal accreditation scheme governed and audited by ARM.
Fairtrade and Fairmined
Fairtrade and Fairmined were one organisation when they were first developed but are now two separate entities with different marks, branding and standards. However, because these schemes developed their standards together, they are similar. A main difference is that where Fairtrade is a system for the trade of many different products, Gold and other precious metals included, Fairmined works solely with mines and miners.
Both of the Fairtrade and Fairmined standards include ensuring fair and safe working conditions for miners are upheld. This includes no child or forced labor, gender equality, systems put in place for health and safety including reducing and properly handling toxins used, responsible environmental management, freedom of association and collective action. They are also both Exclusively available from ASMOs
- economic boost for miners and their families that would otherwise depend on precarious income, through fair wages and a premium to invest in the mining community
- gives miners stable access to the international market
- regulates working conditions and work environment, ensuring health and safety standards are upheld, child/forced labor is not present and access to collective action is available
Fairtrade and Fairmined metals can only be purchased from certified suppliers. In order to purchase Fairtrade or Fairmined metals from a certified supplier, you must be registered with the respective schemes (excluding the strategic partnership Fairmined model). When you register with Fairtrade or Fairmined, you receive a list of all their authorised metal suppliers, casters and operators and can then purchase bullion and semi finished jewellery products from any of these businesses.
Unlike the registered and protected term Fairtrade, the term fair-trade (lower case, hyphenated or not, one word or two) can be used by anyone to describe anything. Much like the use of ‘natural’ in food or beauty marketing, it is often misused as a green-washing tool. Consumers and makers should question what this term is using to describe.
A certified and audited metal accreditation scheme for bringing gold and precious metals from artisanal small scale mining organisations to the international market. Fairtrade Gold is governed by the Fairtrade Foundation and audited by FLOCERT.
Flocert is the independent certifying body for Fairtrade products worldwide.
International Jewellery London. The UK’s leading trade event for the international jewellery industry.
The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, an assurance label for responsible industrial-scale mining.
Large Scale Mining (corporate/industrial mining).
The National Association of Jewellers. The NAJ was formed in 2015 through the unification of the British Jewellers’ Association (BJA) and the National Association of Goldsmiths (N.A.G). It has over 2,000 members with roles in all parts of the jewellery industry.
The Responsible Jewellery Council, are a standards setting and accreditation scheme that promotes responsible business practices in the jewellery industry. Though this system has been scrutinised in the industry. See our Key Organisations page for more information.
Image Credit: Ute Decker