Two years after its launch, Fairtrade gold from artisanal and small-scale mines has arrived in Australia.
Sydney-based jeweller Zoe Pook has launched a collection of engagement rings made from gold from the Sotrami cooperative in Peru.
Each ring in the collection is marked with the Fairtrade stamp which guarantees that the gold has been responsibly sourced and has been certified to Fairtrade standards.
According to Fairtrade International, the organisation’s certification system is the first independent ethical certification system for gold from artisanal and small-scale mines. (ASM).
ASM miners produce just 10 to 15 per cent of global gold supplies but make up around 90 per cent of the gold industry’s labour force.
Fairtrade estimates that there are 100 million ASM miners – most facing high levels of poverty as they often do not receive internationally agreed prices for their gold.
Fairtrade Australia operations manager Craig Chester said Fairtrade is working to help these miners improve their lives
“Though gold is mined in Australia, it is also one of our top imports,” he said.
“To consumers it doesn’t automatically spring to mind as a troubled industry, but gold mining in developing countries is riddled with issues, especially in small artisan mines.
“By purchasing Fairtrade Certified gold consumers can be assured that the small-scale and artisanal miners have been treated and paid fairly, with improvements to working and environmental conditions, ’
Fairtrade stresses that its Certified gold system only covers ASM miners as this is where Fairtrade certification can have the most impact. In addition other initiatives, such as the Responsible Jewellery Council, support improvements in medium- and large-scale mining.
Sotrami was the first Peruvian mining organisation to be Fairtrade Certified.
In its first year of certification the community invested in healthcare, built an extension to the primary school and bought computers for the senior school thanks to the Fairtrade Premium, a set figure of US$2000 per kilogram of fine gold.
Sotrami also opened a not-for-profit convenience store which means the 500-strong community can buy food at reasonable prices.
Zoe Pook plans to release a wedding ring collection using Fairtrade gold early next year.