23% of U.S. jewelry retail market
demands cleaner mining practices
Washington D.C. — Just days before its 5th anniversary on Valentine's Day, the No Dirty Gold campaign is announcing its 50th signatory to the “Golden Rules” for more responsible sourcing of precious metals.
These retailers and manufacturers, representing some 23% of the US jewelry market, have pledged to source metals that were produced more responsibly, meeting the human rights, social, and environmental criteria of the Golden Rules.
“In 2005, I encountered the No Dirty Gold website and was confronted by the fact that precious metals mining is arguably the most toxic and polluting practice on earth – a fact that I had sensed over the years, but had conveniently been willing to ignore,” said Toby Pomeroy, the Oregon-based jewelry designer, adding, “Our job is to take action, and then inspire others to take action.”
Jewelry retailers and their customers are concerned about gold mining because it remains one of the dirtiest industries in the world. The production of one gold ring generates on average, 20 tons of mine waste. Gold mining has been linked to violent conflict, has displaced people off their lands and traditional livelihoods, and poisoned waterways with toxic chemicals.
“Precious metals mining causes toxic pollution and is often tied to human rights abuses, which are unacceptable to us and our customers,” explained Marc Choyt of Reflective Images, a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based jewelry designer and retailer.
Retailers are also hearing directly from their customers, who don't want their jewelry to come at the cost of human rights or a clean environment. Over 100,000 people have signed on to the No Dirty Gold campaign's consumer pledge, calling on mining companies and jewelry retailers to clean up mining practices and produce gold in more responsible ways.
“Given our desire for transparency and responsibility in sourcing our materials, it was only natural for Boucheron to sign on to the No Dirty Gold campaign,” said Jean-Christophe B dos, President and CEO of high-end French jewelry and watch retailer and manufacturer, Boucheron.
The jewelry sector's increased awareness of mining's impacts has spurred the creation of a multi-stakeholder group of retailers, mining companies, and NGOs called the Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA). IRMA will seek to establish best practice standards for mining operations, as well as a system to independently verify compliance with those standards.
“We are delighted that fifty of the world's leading jewelers are seeking alternatives to 'dirty' gold,” said Payal Sampat of EARTHWORKS. “Now mining companies must respond to this demand, by ending destructive practices like mining in forests and dumping wastes in lakes and rivers.”
The financial sector is also recognizing the risks associated with destructive mining practices. On January 30, Norway's Pension Funds disinvested in the gold mining firm Barrick, citing egregious environmental damage at the company's Porgera gold mining in Papua New Guinea. A number of other mining companies, including Freeport McMoRan and Rio Tinto, have also been dropped from Norway's holdings.