Well it is now official, the world has it very first Fairtrade Fairmined gold mine in Bolivia. This week saw the final sign off by FLO -CERT the 1/3rd party auditor in charge of certifying Cotapata in the mountains of Bolivia. as Fairtrade.
This represents a monumental moment in the world of gold mining and responsible jewellery. The work between Fairtrade Labeling Organisation and Alliance for Responsible Mining has finally proved that a certifiable, traceable and transparent gold supply chain from small scale miners to the end consumer is possible.
It is my belief that this is the first ‘pebble’ that will start an eventual avalanche of opportunities for the marginalised miners in our world. With the logical conclusion being the emergence of a new class of mining sector, namely the Responsible Artisanal Community Based Organisation (RACBO). RACBO’s will be able to be as organised, efficient, articulate, as their larger cousins in the large scale mining sector, but will by default drive more ultimate benefit to the communities and countries they live in. Also with their direct link through the fairtrade labeling scheme with the consumer and the jeweller they will have a dedicated route to market for their product.
I am very proud of what we have achieved in the fairtrade movement. All the dedicated team at ARM, at Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade Labeling, the dedication and commitment of the small scale miners in South America, the standards committee who laboured long in defining what was Fairtrade Fairmined gold going to look like. Also the many jewellers and jewellery companies who believed in the idea, launched out on a course of being intentionally ethical in their practice long before the international fairtrade system was able to deliver up a certified mine. Everyone took a risk. That risk has paid off.
In reality this moment has been a lesson in ‘keeping walking’ and ‘never giving up on the dream’. There are very few words I can think up to describe this historic moment. Gold has changed and the gold story now belongs to the small people again, the artisan miner and the artisan jeweller. It is these people who took the risk, not the big companies or brands. It makes me realise that all change comes from the margins and the future is always in the hands of the unreasonable person who refuses to accept the status quo.
So well done Cotapata, well done ARM, well done Fairtrade, well the jewellers. We need more of you.