RAPAPORT... The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and Fairtrade International (FLO) will not renew their partnership contract with Fairmined and Fairtrade gold, so the original agreement will end on April 22 and the standards and label will split into two different systems. Only the Fairtrade Mark will be used for precious metals after that date, which all parties involved believe is more consumer friendly. FLO and ARM jointly launched Fairtrade and Fairmined gold in the U.K. in 2011.
''Working with Fairtrade and Fairmined gold has helped make miners a more powerful part of the industry, but we’re really just at the beginning of our journey,'' said Harriet Lamb, the CEO of FLO. ''We’re determined to put the spotlight on the challenges which miners face, to grow the market for Fairtrade gold, and to bring about improvement and change to ensure a better future for miners and their families.''
Chris Davis, the head of producer services for FLO Africa & Middle East, added, ''We are very proud of our achievements in the mining sector to date. Going forward, the two partner organizations hope that by working more independently, yet cooperating wherever possible, we can make greater progress toward further improved terms of trade for disadvantaged miners in the future.''
ARM, which will maintain the Fairmined scheme moving forward, believes that artisanal and small-scale mining is increasingly being recognized as a sector that presents real development opportunities for impoverished communities worldwide. Today, artisanal mining is at the heart of global development and a broad spectrum of market players want to be part of its positive transformation, according to the group. This increased visibility and commitment to change in the sector is presenting important new opportunities, so by working independently, ARM will have greater flexibility to respond and to serve both miners and markets in a more tailored way.
Lina Villa, the executive director of ARM, said, ''We are utterly focused on realizing opportunities for artisanal and small-scale miners. We need to work together with all market players such as all jewelers, the industry and the financial market to ensure real sustainable development for mining communities in the future.''
Several of the certified mines expressed concern that without increased market demand and sales, it will not be sustainable for them to continue in the certification scheme. Given that view, ARM is committed to increasing fair market opportunities for the miners and is looking to make adjustments to the business model, something that is done in coordination with stakeholders across all segments of the value chain. Recognizing that jewelers, traders and the industry have been frustrated with some of the restrictive barriers of the current Fairtrade and Fairmined model, ARM is committed to finding creative solutions that will be mutually beneficial for the miners and the market, it stated. As an example, ARM is currently exploring how to lower costs for jewelers without compromising the developmental nature of the initiative.
The Fairmined model will be open to all market players wishing to make a positive impact on responsible mining, stated ARM. It will continue to provide gold for businesses selling labeled products with strict traceability requirements and product composition rules (no dilution) and it will provide a new business-to-business model for non-labeled products. This will allow all committed brands to increasingly incorporate ethical sourcing into their supply chains, while supporting formalization, the recognition of mineral rights, and market access for the artisanal and small-scale mining sector.
ARM added that some jewelers feel their supply of certified precious metals may be in jeopardy under the new model, but the group stated that less than 15 percent of available certified gold is being sold into the Fairtrade and Fairmined market. ARM will continue to work with mining communities already working towards certification to ensure that there will be an adequate supply of Fairmined certified precious metals. Should supply ever become an issue, measures will be put in place to preserve the necessary supply for the artisanal jewelry market, according to the group.
Maria Laura Barreto, the chair of ARM's board of directors, said, ''The Alliance for Responsible Mining is a global pioneer and leader in the responsible artisanal mining movement. Our strength comes from the mining communities with and for whom we work. Together we are excited for the future of Fairmined and the continued growth of the responsible mining network.''