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SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 20 – No Dirty Gold, a campaign by Earthworks to get jewelry retailers  to reject irresponsibly mined precious metals, took top honors at the 2011 BENNY Awards, given for outstanding achievement in advancing corporate ethics.

The awards were announced this week by the Business Ethics Network, which since 1995 has honored victories in corporate campaigns by non-profit activist groups. No Dirty Gold not only won the 2011 BENNY from Business Ethics Network’s judges, but also the People’s Choice Award, determined by popular vote conducted online.

Since 2004, the No Dirty Gold campaign has enlisted more than 70 jewelers worldwide to sign the Golden Rules, a set of guidelines to avoid gold from irresponsibly mining and to seek cleaner sources of gold and precious metals. This year, Earthworks partnered with Change.org, an online petition site, to convince Target, the third-largest retail chain in the U.S. and one of the top 10 jewelry retailers, to sign the pledge.

“Due to the efforts of impacted communities around the world, to the No Dirty Gold campaign, and Golden Rules signatories, consumers are increasingly aware that the source of their wedding rings and cell phones is linked to human rights violations, forest destruction, toxic pollution, and loss of lands and livelihoods,” said Payal Sampat, international campaign director for Earthworks. “Each company that signs the Golden Rules brings us a step closer to cleaning up dirty gold.”

The No Dirty Gold campaign has now turned it’s sights to Costco. Costco, one of the ten largest jewelry retailers in the US has continually bucked the trend of nearly every major retailer and refused to support the campaign’s “Golden Rules” principles for clean gold sourcing.

Gold mining produces mind-boggling quantities of waste and pollution. The production of one gold ring generates an average of 20 tons of mine waste. Gold mining has been directly linked to human rights violations, forest destruction, toxic pollution, and loss of lands and livelihoods.

The Business Ethics Network also honored Carrie Dann of the Western Shoshone Defense Project with the Individual Achievement Award. Dann and her late sister Mary have led their people’s political and legal battle to retain their traditional tribal territory in the Mountain West. The Western Shoshone Defense Project, an important ally of the Earthworks and the No Dirty Gold campaign, is fighting plans by Barrick Gold to expand an open-pit gold mine on Mt. Tenabo, a Shoshone sacred site.


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