Conflict-free gold standard about to become a fact

The World Gold Council unveiled today the long-awaited “exposure draft” of the so-called conflict-free gold standard, which aims to crack down on gold tainted by conflict and human rights violations, such as the ongoing supply coming from the rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The framework is intended to ensure that gold produced under its guidelines neither fuels armed conflict, nor funds armed groups, nor contributes to human rights abuses associated with armed conflicts.

The standard has been developed in close collaboration with the council members, which make up the who’s who of global gold mining and which are committed to implementing the final standard once it becomes available. The members received input from a wide range of stakeholders including NGOs, governments, investors, academics and media, following the publication of a first draft in June last year.

Ian Telfer, Chairman of the World Gold Council and Goldcorp said the industry believes that, where it is responsibly undertaken, gold mining and its related activities can play a crucial role in achieving sustainable development and alleviating poverty in developing countries.

“Responsible gold mining is an important contributor to both economic growth and social development in gold-producing countries,” he added.

Tainted gold

Tainted gold is a significant problem in many countries, such as the well-know case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where gold and other minerals have been funding one of the deadliest wars since World War II.

Close to 6 million people have died in what is the widest interstate conflict in modern African history and, so far, the government’s efforts to halt illegal gold mining have been in vain.

In most of the reports compiled by the United Nations, it has been noted that the illegal trade in Congolese minerals is one of the biggest sources of income for rebel groups.

Last year the UN said that Congo’s gold trade is worth about US$160 million a year and that 80% of it is smuggled out of the country, often through Kenya and Tanzania.

The industry says there is hope. Pierre Lassonde, Chairman of Franco-Nevada Corporation and the World Gold Council board member responsible for leading the development of the Standard, thinks the guidelines published today represent “a major step forward” towards eradicating gold that fuels conflict from the legitimate supply chain.

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