Christian activist Greg Valerio is marking one year since he set up the world’s first independent ethical certification system for responsibly mined gold.
The group, titled Fairtrade and Fairmined, celebrate their first anniversary this Fairtrade Fortnight (27 Feb – 11 March).
The Fairtrade Foundation reports that sales of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold bullion reached an estimated £700,000 in 2011 and Retailers and jewellers agree that customers have responded positively to the gold.
Four gold mining organisations have already become certified by the Fairtrade founcation, with an additional two currently going through the inspection process.
Highlights for Fairtrade and Fairmined gold jewellery’s first year included bespoke commissions which adorned the fingers of TV presenter, radio DJ and model Lisa Snowdon and Livia Firth as part of her Green Carpet Challenge at the 2011 Oscars.
Thanks to a grant of £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.
According to Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold, mining in Africa often involves unsafe use of mercury, deforestation, poor working conditions and child labour. The group's programme 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 labour and the democratic organisation 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.
Fairtrade Foundation Business Development Manager Victoria Waugh says: ‘We are very excited to celebrate the anniversary of the world’s first responsibly mined gold and are delighted that Comic Relief are making this hugely significant investment which gives a real opportunity to some of the world’s poorest miners in Africa.
"Through the financial and developmental benefits of Fairtrade – including additional premium, pre-finance and long-term business relations with traders – even more producers have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty and create sustainable livelihoods for their families and communities.
"We’re calling on the jewellery industry to support artisanal miners by choosing to source certified gold for their business, and consumers to take a step for gold miners by buying jewellery pieces marked with the Fairtrade and Fairmined dual stamp.’
The Fairtrade Foundation is currently working with 40 jewellers, almost double since the launch, and has licensed 591 individual jewellery pieces plus several entire collections.
The Fairtrade Foundation plans to build consumer awareness of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold over the coming year and will help consumers better understand why buying jewellery made from Fairtrade and Fairmined gold for a special occasion holds greater value and significance.
Estimated UK retail sales of all Fairtrade products in 2011 reached £1.32bn, a 12% increase on sales of £1.17bn in 2010.
March 7th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes