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WASHINGTON, DC — This week, the No Dirty Gold campaign took out the first in a series of ads to be published in national publications.  The ads call on jewelry firms, and other businesses that use gold, to insist the gold they buy–and sell–is produced in ways that do not harm communities, workers, and the environment. The first ad is running in National Jeweler magazine, a leading U.S. jewelry publication

“Jewelry CEOs may not be driving the bulldozers at mines, but as the leading end-users of gold, they're in a unique position to help clean up irresponsible mining practices,' said Payal Sampat, EARTHWORKS' No Dirty Gold campaign director. Jewelry accounts for more than 80 percent of gold use each year.

Prominent jewelry firms such as Tiffany & Co. have already responded to requests from No Dirty Gold campaign supporters and have staked out a leadership position by calling for reforms in what is arguably the world's dirtiest industry, gold mining. The No Dirty Gold campaign is urging Zales, Sterling (the parent firm of Kay Jewelers), Fortunoff, Rolex and other firms to take the necessary steps to protect their brands from future consumer backlash. Thus far, 6,300 campaign supporters have sent letters to these companies.

“Jewelers have a real opportunity to be at the leading edge of their industry when it comes to the responsible sourcing of gold,” said Keith Slack, Oxfam America's No Dirty Gold campaign director.   The jewelry industry itself has noted that consumer research indicates that 90 percent of consumers would switch buying habits as a result of negative production perception.

The ad in National Jeweler reads, “Love. Romance. Commitment. Destruction.” The subtext below reads, “We need to clean up the gold mining business before it tarnishes the jewelry industry.”  It is followed by an appeal to retailers to urge the mining industry to make real reforms in order to protect the relationship between jewelers and their customers.

“Cleaning up dirty gold mining cannot merely  be a public relations exercise designed only to 'restore consumer confidence',” says EARTHWORKS' Payal Sampat.  “It's about making concrete, on-the-ground changes in the way this metal is produced–changes that make a tangible difference to communities and ecosystems affected by mining operations.”

Retailers are being urged to sign-on to concrete criteria for more responsible gold mining, also referred to as the Golden Rules. “By signing on to the 'Golden Rules' retailers can let their customers know they are working to clean up the world's dirtiest industry,” adds Keith Slack of Oxfam America. 

The No Dirty Gold campaign demands that gold mining companies meet the following basic human rights and environmental standards at their operations:

  • Respect for basic human rights outlined in international conventions and law
  • Free, prior, and informed consent of affected communities.
  • Safe working conditions.
  • Respect for workers' rights and labor standards (including the eight core ILO conventions)
  • Ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarized conflict.
  • Ensure that projects do not force communities off their lands.
  • No dumping of mine wastes into the ocean, rivers, lakes, or streams.
  • Ensure that projects are not located in protected areas, fragile ecosystems or other areas of high conservation value.
  • Ensure that projects do not generate sulfuric acid in perpetuity.
  • Cover all costs of closing down and cleaning up mine sites.
  • Fully disclose information about social and environmental effects of projects.
  • Allow independent, third-party verification of the above.

The No Dirty Gold campaign is not a boycott on gold, but rather, seeks to educate consumers about the harmful impacts of gold mining and to build consumer support for industry reform.  In places as diverse as Indonesia, Ghana, the United States, and Peru, gold mining operations have displaced people from their homelands against their will, destroyed traditional livelihoods, and damaged ecosystems.

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