JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The World Gold Council (WGC) on Thursday published the conflict-free gold standard, which aims to curb gold production fuelling conflict and human rights violations.
The standard, which would apply to conflict-affected areas globally, was developed in collaboration with the council’s member companies, which comprise the world’s leading gold producers.
Gold mining firms who apply the standard would be required to publicly disclose their conformance – either on their websites or in company reports.
Companies could use the standard as a benchmark to assess their operations and provide assurance that they did not cause, support or benefit unlawful armed conflict, or contribute to serious human rights abuses or breaches of international humanitarian law.
The council stated that the standard provided further confidence that gold mining was an important source of social and economic development, if responsibly undertaken.
“It is essential that we combat any misuse of gold by militias and criminal networks. This has been the driving force behind the development of this standard,” Franco-Nevada chairperson and WGC board member responsible for leading the development of the standard, Pierre Lassonde, said.
Canadian miner Goldcorp and WGC chairperson Ian Telfer added that responsible gold mining was an important contributor to economic growth and social development in gold-producing countries.
The WGC instigated work to develop a conflict-free gold standard at the end of 2009. Subsequent to this, the US passed legislation which declared four minerals – tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – to be potential “conflict minerals”. The Dodd-Frank Act of the US focuses on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjoining countries.
Until October last year, when Canadian gold miner Banro opened its Twangiza mine, there were no large-scale corporate mines in the DRC, with the majority of production being artisanal and small scale. Weak governance, poor security and the fragmented nature of artisanal mining groups make them easy prey for control by armed groups.
It is estimated that around 10% to 15% of newly mined gold comes from artisanal sources.
The WGC standard would act as an industry programme to operationalise the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s guidance on responsible mineral supply from conflict areas.
It would also complement and integrate with other industry-led initiatives, including the London Bullion Market Association’s Responsible Gold Guidance.Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online