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Madison Dialogue publishes White Paper on the Association for Responsible Mining's Standard Zero for Fair Trade Artisanal Gold and Associated Silver and Platinum.

This emerging process will certify gold and other metals from small-scale and artisanal mining.

Oct 9, 2007 – The Madison Dialogue has published its second White Paper, entitled Getting to Fair Trade Gold and Jewellery, by Cristina Echavarria, Secretary General of the Association for Responsible Mining (ARM), a global NGO based in Colombia. It describes the Standard Zero process, which will certify gold that comes from artisanal and small-scale mines as meeting social, environmental and human rights standards and providing added economic benefit to local communities.

This project seeks to link an emerging grassroots movement in ethically produced metals and gems with the global “fair trade” movement. The result, for the first time, would be the presence in jewelry stores of jewelry sourced from gold that meets standards of environmental accountability, economic justice, and local sustainability.

Standard Zero certification will offer an economic incentive for artisanal miners to demonstrate that they are a legitimate part of the mining sector, that they can do things right, and by so doing greatly improve the quality of life of their communities. These miners want a decent and productive way to raise their families in a safe environment,” says Echavarria.

Artisanal and small-scale mining is widespread – it produces 20-25% of all non-fuel minerals, including precious metals. It sometimes takes place in fragile ecosystems in rural areas. Widespread poverty in these areas is aggravated by the environmental impacts usually associated with this type of mining, which directly affects ecosystems and human health. The ILO estimated in 1999 that there are over 13 million artisanal miners worldwide, and that 90 million indirectly depend on the activity. However, rising prices of commodities and deepening of poverty and conflict may well have tripled that figure in the last 8 years.

The paper describes Standard Zero's process of creating environmental and social standards and maps out the framework by which artisanal and small-scale miners can organize and collaborate with “upstream” purchasers, to guarantee that a chain of custody of the mined metals occurs. (A chain of custody ensures that jewelers can determine where precious metals originate.) The process also guarantees a simultaneous return of fair wages and a premium to those who actually mine the metals.

Trial implementations of Standard Zero will take place in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. “Certified Fair-Trade Artisanal Gold,” produced according to Standard Zero, is expected in 2009.


The Madison Dialogue is a cross-sector initiative established to promote communication and collaboration among companies, civil society groups and others seeking to encourage best practices, sustainable economic development, and verified sources of responsible gold, diamonds and other minerals.