Symbol of love, luxury and power, gold is the ultimate precious mineral. But for miners, the reality is far less glamourous.
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 $135 billion a year on gold jewellery.
100 million people worldwide depend on artisanal and small-scale mining for their survival. Mining rights are generally given to large-scale industrial mining companies so small-scale miners are pushed into running informal and often illegal operations. These miners are at the end of long and complex supply chains and have little option but to accept the price offered by traders, however low.
Conditions are hazardous and health and safety measures are inadequate. The extraction process requires the handling of toxic mercury and cyanide, which poses serious health risks to the miners.
For Fairtrade Gold, miners receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium ($2,000/kg) to invest in improving their business or in community projects such as education, clean water and healthcare. Becoming Fairtrade certified and meeting Fairtrade Standards for gold helps miners formalise and improve their mining and business practices. This includes strict Standards on working conditions, health and safety, handling chemicals, women’s rights, child labour and protection of the environment.
Learn more about Fairtrade’s work with gold and precious metals.