Human ring of gold formed to call for fairer deal for gold miners living in poverty
Today, Wednesday 14 January 08.30 am, an eye-catching human ring of gold will form outside Britain’s most iconic church, St Paul’s Cathedral, to symbolize the human chain of miners who toil to make our gold rings in difficult circumstances.
The event launches the Fairtrade Foundation’s new national ‘I DO’ campaign to encourage brides and grooms in the UK to buy Fairtrade gold rings ahead of Valentine’s Day. An estimated $1 million (£650,000) in Fairtrade Premium could be generated through 50,000 couples choosing 100,000 Fairtrade gold wedding rings to invest in improving education, healthcare and livelihoods for some of the poorest mining communities across the world.
There are 15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners globally producing 10-15 % of the world’s gold supplies. Despite the alluring promise of a better livelihood this is actually one of the world’s most dangerous industries with miners earning as little as $1 per day. It is rife with exploitation and daily contact with toxic chemicals used to process gold such as mercury, cyanide and nitric acid means workers risk disease, serious injury, premature births and even death.
Fairtrade is publishing an Industry Briefing to explain the complexities behind the gold mining industry and its new Standard for Gold & Precious Metals to help protect miners and their families against poverty and exploitation, revising the standard first introduced in 2011. The new standard will encourage best practice and be in line with changes in international regulation and legislation around the production and trade of so-called ‘conflict minerals’, of which gold is considered one. Under the new standard miners are now required to:
- Uphold human rights policy preventing war crimes, bribery, money laundering and child labour
- Clearly represent where the minerals were mined
- Try to minimise the risks of conflict minerals through robust risk assessments and collaboration across supply chains
- Report to buyers and trading partners regarding the risks of conflict minerals
Since becoming certified in 2010, Fairtrade mining organizations in Peru have invested in healthcare, education and improved equipment and later in 2015 nine mining groups in *East Africa hope to benefit from similar positive social and economic impacts when they become Fairtrade certified in 2015.
Speaking at the press event in Marylebone later that morning, Amy Ross, Fairtrade Gold Project Manager will say: “Gold is such a beautiful product associated with romance, shine and history. By creating traceability and provenance through Fairtrade, that gold becomes extra special. We all share responsibility to the planet and to each other so our hope for the future is that, as well as asking what carat their ring is, people start to ask where it came from and who mined it.
“Unfortunately not enough people know about Fairtrade gold, which is why we are running the campaign. By choosing Fairtrade gold you can help create a better life for miners and their communities. Fairtrade gold supports miners to eliminate child labour, work their way out of the vicious circle of exploitation and poverty and reduce the harmful impacts of mercury. Fairtrade hopes to now engage with gold in the same way it has with tea, coffee and bananas.”
A recent survey* found that only 16% of people said they are familiar with Fairtrade gold as opposed to 64% who are familiar with Fairtrade tea or coffee, yet over half, 56% of people think that buying Fairtrade products is the responsible thing to do. A further 31% thought that Fairtrade gold is more expensive than normal gold when this is not necessarily the case.
A total of 59 UK jewellers are already licensed to use the Fairtrade gold stamp on their pieces along with a further 102 goldsmiths who are registered to sell Fairtrade gold, so there is a wide range of jewellers and designers to choose from when buying jewellery.
The press launch will also unveil a two-week public exhibition of some of the latest Fairtrade bridal jewellery from 13 different goldsmiths. The Fairtrade Foundation has partnered with jewellers Cox & Power who are hosting the display and press event.
A dedicated website www.fairtrade.org.uk/IDo has been created for the campaign. It will offer one lucky couple the opportunity to win a set of 18ct wedding bands worth £1,500 made from Fairtrade gold from Ingle & Rhode. Couples will be asked to upload romantic stories to the hub and the winners will be selected by the public who will vote on the most romantic story submitted. In addition, the website will contain inspirational wedding stories, tips on how to choose the perfect ring and suggestions about where to buy.
The campaign, which launches first in the UK will be replicated in other Fairtrade markets globally starting with Switzerland, aims to sell 100,000 wedding rings to 50,000 couples. Around 250,000 marriages take place annually in the UK.
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Fairtrade Gold Rings: Online Press Office URL: http://onlinepressoffice.tnrcommunications.co.uk/fairtrade Password: gold
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For more information, interviews, footage and images and case studies, please contact Martine Parry, Media and PR Manager in the Fairtrade Foundation press office on 020 7440 7695 or at martine.parry @fairtrade.org.uk
Notes to Editors
- Around the world small-scale mining employs about 30 million miners. As many as 100 million people depend on it for their livelihoods.
- Fairtrade gold was first launched in 2011 in the UK closely followed by launches in Australia/New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea and Sweden. Certified gold is being launched in Switzerland in October 2014 and discussions are currently underway to introduce certified gold in the USA and Germany in the near future.
- The Fairtrade Minimum Price for pure gold is set at 95% of the London Bullion Market Association’s (LBMA) fix plus a Fairtrade Premium of US$2000 per kilogram of fine gold bought from the mines. Platinum: 95% LMBA + Fairtrade Premium of 15%; Silver: 95% LMBA + Fairtrade Premium of 10%. The LBMA fix is the international agreed price for gold. Artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) producers in the mainstream get anything from 50% to 85% of the LBMA fix.
- Miners can earn a premium of 15% on top of their sale price when they recover and process gold without the use of harmful chemicals such as mercury and cyanide.
- Certified miners must use safe and responsible practices for managing toxic chemicals in gold recovery. Chemicals have to be reduced to a minimum and where possible eliminated over an agreed time period.
- Child and forced labour is prohibited under Fairtrade standards, and Fairtrade monitoring stamps it out wherever it is found.
The FAIRTRADE Mark is a certification mark and a registered trademark of Fairtrade International. The Mark is licensed on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. Today, more than 1.3 million people – farmers, workers and their families – across 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.
* Survey conducted by Cred Jewellery November 2014
*A Comic Relief Funded pilot project working with mining groups in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.