First Ex­port of DRC Con­flict-free Ar­ti­sanal Gold Com­pleted

Solitaire - - SPECTRUM -

Part­ner­ship Africa Canada (PAC) and Fair Trade Jew­ellery Co. re­ported the first ex­port of con­flict-free and trace­able ar­ti­sanal gold from the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) to Canada in late June.

The mile­stone came a month af­ter PAC an­nounced the Just Gold project had im­ple­mented a sys­tem to trace le­gal and con­flict-free ar­ti­sanal gold in DRC, with a proven chain of cus­tody from mine site to ex­porter.

Fair Trade Jew­ellery Co., a Toronto-based pi­o­neer in eth­i­cal sourc­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity and re­tail, im­ported 238 grams in three gold doré bars to Canada.

Within days, the Toronto team re­fined, al­loyed and de­signed four re­spon­si­bly-mined and con­flict-free ar­ti­sanal gold rings. Each ring has been en­graved with a lot num­ber, which traces it to a spe­cific mine site in the DRC’s Ituri Prov­ince, where the gold orig­i­nated.

“Sourc­ing from Congo was a new and ex­cep­tion­ally am­bi­tious process, but one to which our or­gan­i­sa­tion is com­mit­ted to and ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing thanks to part­ners on the ground, like PAC,” said Robin Gamb­hir, Fair Trade Jew­ellery Co. co-founder.

“Af­ter more than a decade of en­sur­ing that our ma­te­ri­als are re­spon­si­bly-sourced, we’re de­lighted to add Just Gold to the gold op­tions we cur­rently of­fer our clients. En­sur­ing we source fully trace­able ma­te­ri­als di­rectly from com­mu­ni­ties is a way to fos­ter com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, and as a com­pany—deepen our im­pact on many stake­hold­ers,” added Gamb­hir.

PAC be­gan the Just Gold project as a pi­lot in 2015 in Ituri Prov­ince. The project cre­ates in­cen­tives for ar­ti­sanal gold min­ers to chan­nel their prod­uct to le­gal ex­porters—and even­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble con­sumers—by of­fer­ing fair and trans­par­ent pric­ing and by pro­vid­ing ca­pac­ity-build­ing, such as tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to min­ers in re­turn for le­gal sales. Min­ers are taught bet­ter ex­ploita­tion tech­niques and are of­fered Just Gold project equip­ment. In re­turn, the gold they pro­duce must be tracked and sold through le­gal chan­nels. To­day, the project has over 600 min­ers reg­is­tered across six sites.

As the project moves out of its pi­lot phase with a proven chain of cus­tody from mine site to the ex­porter in DRC, Fair Trade Jew­ellery Co.’s move to im­port the gold is an im­por­tant next step. The jew­eller also col­lab­o­rates with its sis­ter com­pany, Toronto-based soft­ware start-up Con­sen­sas, to trace the gold from ex­port to con­sumer.

“This ex­port from Bu­nia, DRC to Toronto proved that it is pos­si­ble to bring to Cana­dian and in­ter­na­tional con­sumers traced, con­flict-free Con­golese ar­ti­sanal gold. What is par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing is that we have shown that ev­ery gram of gold can be ac­com­pa­nied by re­li­able quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive data about its prove­nance and the ac­tors in­volved in its ex­trac­tion, pro­duc­tion and trade,” said Joanne Le­bert, PAC’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“Say­ing that it is im­pos­si­ble to carry out due dili­gence on gold sup­ply chains is no longer a valid ar­gu­ment for the in­dus­try. We have proven oth­er­wise,” said Le­bert.

Chal­lenges faced dur­ing this ex­port in­cluded high ex­port taxes, trans­porta­tion re­stric­tions, and bur­den­some pa­per­work, will be used by PAC to call on the Con­golese gov­ern­ment to cre­ate more favourable con­di­tions for le­gal trade and re­spon­si­ble in­vest­ment.

Fund­ing for the Just Gold project is pro­vided to PAC by Global Af­fairs Canada, with ad­di­tional fund­ing by USAID through the Ca­pac­ity Build­ing for Re­spon­si­ble Min­er­als Trade (CBRMT) project and In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Migration.

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