The World Gold Council (WGC), working with its member companies and leading gold refiners, has produced a draft framework for two standards designed to combat gold that enables fuels or finances armed conflict. Released for review and comment in mid-June 2011, the ‘Conflict Free Gold’ and ‘Chain of Custody’ standards seek to ensure:
- Where gold is mined in a conflict or high-risk zone, its production and/or transportation do not finance or benefit armed groups.
- Procedures are in place for tracking conflict-free gold from the mine to the end of the refining process.
At the time of the release, the draft standards were being ‘stress-tested’ by leading gold mining companies and refineries as part of the development process. “The WGC recognizes the multi-faceted nature of this initiative and is seeking input that will foster a collaborative and comprehensive solution and is, therefore, undertaking consultations with stakeholders,” the statement said.
Interested parties, including governments, NGOs, the investment community, artisanal miners, end-users and other participants in the gold supply chain, were invited to review the draft standards and provide feedback by September 1, 2011. There will also be continuing work on related issues such as recycled gold, audit and assurance.
The current focus of concern is about gold as a factor in fueling armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and adjoining countries. The standards address this situation for large-scale producers.
WGC is also working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and others on global guidelines for the responsible sourcing of gold and with sector-specific groups in the electronics and jewelry industries to seek an integrated solution for market participants.
“The gold market is uniquely complex. It is difficult to track specific consignments from the mine to the end user because gold is easily melted down and co-mingled with gold from other sources. The success of any certification system will depend upon the cooperation and commitment of many parties in the gold supply chain,” said WGC CEO Aram Shishmanian. “The work on the standards is well advanced, but we want all those committed to addressing conflict issues to contribute their ideas. We are aiming for a comprehensive framework that commands confidence, credibility and broad support. We look forward to working with organizations that use gold in developing an integrated certification process that avoids duplication and meets the needs of all stakeholders.”
The draft standards can be downloaded from the WGC website at www.gold.org/about_gold/sustainability/conflict_free_standards/.