October 29, 2020

The Power of Gold Buyers Engaging with Artisanal and Small-scale Mining

A joint call to the Industry to include Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in your gold supply chains.

Call to Industry

The Alliance for Responsible Mining recently initiated a call to the gold industry which was signed by more than 30 organisations to raise awareness about the importance of including responsible artisanal and small-scale mining in global mineral supply chains.

The reason for this call to action were announcements by big companies in the jewellery and technology industry that communicated their sustainability and sourcing strategies which include switching to 100% recycled gold and banning newly mined gold from their supply chains.

© Alliance for Responsible Mining

To many, this may seem a responsible decision which may even cause a sustainability trend within the industry. While the intentions of the switch to recycled gold are in line with global trends such as circular economies and ecological footprint reduction, we need to take into account that the recycling of gold is not the same as recycling plastic or paper.

While the recycling of plastic or paper intends to and achieves to diminish the production of new plastic or paper, this isn’t the same for gold. Gold would be recycled anyway because of its worth, still this won’t curb new mining. Elena Fadul, a member of the Fairmined community, in a discussion on recycled vs mined gold said that:

“As long as gold is the most valuable commodity out there and it is linked to our financial systems, there will always be someone ready to risk their life to dig a few grams out of the earth.”

Apart from that, it is important to take into account that:

  • A) recycled gold also has its shortcomings and there are differences in how “responsible” different types of recycled gold are, and
  • B) there are also other economic, social and environmental issues to be addressed in mineral supply chains which aren’t resolved through buying recycled gold.

Instead of detailing the challenges with recycled gold, I’d like to refer to other blogs already written on this topic that summarise the situation pretty well:

(c) 2019 Ana Orjuela/ARM