Gold is a symbol of love, power and wealth the world-over. But look behind the glitz and the reality is not so glamorous.
Ninety per cent of the labour force involved in gold mining is made up of artisanal and small-scale miners who produce between 200-300 tonnes of gold each year. Around 70% of this is used to make jewellery, with consumers across the globe spending a whopping $135 billion a year on gold jewellery!
An estimated 100 million people worldwide rely on small-scale mining for their livelihoods and to support their families and communities. Small-scale miners often work long days and in difficult and sometimes hazardous conditions. There are serious health risks associated with the improper handling of toxic mercury and cyanide, which can be used in the extraction process. Miners struggle to attract the finance or generate sufficient profits needed to invest in their operations or safer, more efficient technology.
Small-scale miners are at the end of long and complex supply chains and for those working in remote locations, it can be difficult to sell their gold at a fair price. For Fairtrade Gold, miners receive a guaranteed Fair Minimum Price and a Premium to spend on improving their businesses or on community projects, such as education, clean water and healthcare. Fairtrade certification means these small scale-miners meet Fairtrade Standards. This can help them to improve their mining and business practices as well as open the market to generate more sales on better terms. The Standards include strict requirements on working conditions, health and safety, handling chemicals, women’s rights, child labour and protection of the environment.