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Indeed, closed-pipe supply chains such as the BGI could potentially be expanded to become a more integral certification program. The commitment of buyers is essential for any certification program to work. While donor funding is helpful in setting up a program, the certification needs to present value to the buyer so as to justify the additional due diligence required when sourcing from a higher risk environment. CTC appears to have had limited success until now in linking certified mines to buyers. Fairtrade Gold on the other hand has been able to rely on a known label to directly reach consumers. Unfortunately their geographical reach does not yet include the countries affected by Dodd-Frank.



Fully recognizing the complexity of artisanal and small scale mining, this part of the blog really was intended to provide a first, high-level, overview on the topic. We intend to follow-up with a part on the specific challenges of ASM and the gaps existing systems present when it comes to effectively including ASM miners. In the meantime I would refer you to a recent article of Nicholas Garrett, addressing ASM challenges on

"Looking forward, the gold industry should look to develop market-led approaches, particularly with small-scale miners, that seek to pull the informal trade into the formal sector, as well as seek closer ties between large scale and small-scale legal mining"

Would this mean a focus on better funding for CTC & BGI? And if so, who would provide a more ample funding platform to conduct more integral, long term certification programs? Artisanal mining is a major issue with almost any mineral and needs to be addressed. 


The RJC’s efforts have been thoroughly questioned by civil society institutions outside of their governance council.  These are detailed in the publication, More Shine Than Substance

As stated in this Fair Jewelry Action interview with RJC CEO Michael Rae:

Greg Valerio: I was in Peru in 2007, witnessing children who were using mercury to extract gold that was being sold through a series of traders, ending up in the supply chain that found its way into the European and US market. So how is RJC going to stop that from happening?

Michael Rae: Well frankly we won’t, because it’s not something that we are saying we are doing… We are not saying we are giving you something out of a RJC certified supply chain.

I feel the perspective of this blog article is that of someone piloting a high altitude jet, that makes it possible to omit certain details of what is taking place on the ground.

As the leaders of a gold mining cooperative  of North Kivu Province, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo state, Dodd Frank  puts them in a very difficult position:  “Die By The Bullet Or Die By Starvation Is The Stark Choice.”

Until the small scale miners have equal voice around a table to powered institutions such as the RJC or the World Gold Council, there will be no solution to conflict mineral issues.  This cannot be dealt with simply top down.

We need to build upon a parallel economy that works on a set of different economic relationships, such as Fairtrade Gold.

We also need to educate the consumer of this new ethical gold story and the human rights and environmental atrocities associated with gold mining, which will help drive the emerging new approach connecting jewelry and its sourcing.   

Ultimately,  people in mineral rich areas should be able to control their resources and benefit from them.  To many, this is a radical concept.