The Minamata Convention on Mercury addresses artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in a stand-alone article (Article 7) and requires parties with more than insignificant ASGM to develop and implement a National Action Plan (NAP). These NAPs must contain strategies to eliminate worst practices and reduce, and where feasible, eliminate mercury use and exposures. However, such measures often require investment in better equipment as well as training in new technical and business skills.
One key element of attracting finance and engaging formal markets is to ensure that gold is produced according to relevant environmental and social standards. Due diligence processes can provide confidence to all actors in the gold supply chain that such standards are being addressed. All actors are responsible for demonstrating they have made reasonable efforts, and consistent and transparent progression towards improvement.
planetGOLD Criteria for Environmentally & Socially Responsible Operations
The planetGOLD programme sets out specific criteria to govern the operations of artisanal and small-scale gold mining entities engaged with the programme. Conformance with the criteria will ensure that artisanal and small-scale miners participating in the planetGOLD programme undertake sufficient efforts to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and where appropriate, offset adverse impacts to people and the environment. By adhering to these criteria, mining entities will be able to meet the environmental and social safeguards required of GEF-funded projects and will enhance their ability to attract financing and sell their gold products to formal markets.
The planetGOLD Criteria have been aligned to the CRAFT Code and can be recognized as a branched version of CRAFT. In this way, the mining entities that conform with planetGOLD Criteria will also be in conformance with CRAFT as well as other key guidance and codes described below.
In addition to incorporating elements of the CRAFT Code, the planetGOLD Criteria include three criteria that are specific to the planetGOLD programme:
- Eliminating mercury in the mining process
- Respecting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Minimizing impact on biodiversity
Due Diligence Standards and Resources
While not exhaustive, the following list of due diligence resources offers multiple processes to identify, evaluate, report, mitigate and monitor risks in artisanal and small-scale mining operations and supply chains.
CRAFT is an open-source standard. It enables ASM gold producers to access formal markets by proactively facilitating due diligence of their supply chains conforming with the OECD Guidance at the earliest possible stage of their development.
The European Partnership for Responsible Mining Due Diligence Hub offers access to a portal for your responsible mineral supply chain and covers each step of the OECD Due Diligence guidance.
The Fairmined Standard for Gold from Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, Including Associated Precious Metals was developed to support sustainable development of ASM communities. Guided by the Alliance for Responsible Mining's vision for responsible ASM, the overall objective is to promote the progressive organization and formalization of the sector.
The Fairtrade Standard was created to provide opportunities for artisanal and small-scale miners and their communities by promoting formalization, and establishing member-based artisanal and small-scale organisations (ASMO).
The Global Environment Facility: Policy on Environmental and Social Safeguards sets out mandatory requirements for identifying and addressing environmental and social risks and impacts in GEF-financed projects and programs.
The LBMA Responsible Sourcing Responsible Gold Guidance (RGG) is based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance as well as Swiss and US KYC, Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing regulations. This programme explicitly requires refiners to engage with producers defining minimum requirements that are mandatory along the entire precious metal supply chain.
The OECD Virtual Due Diligence Guidance provides detailed recommendations to help companies meet responsible sourcing expectations. The five-step, risk-based due diligence process is relevant to all companies in the mineral supply chain that produce or use minerals from conflict-affected or high-risk areas. It applies to all minerals and is global in scope.
The Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices defines the responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices that all certified RJC members must adhere to.
Resources for Jewelers
The Ethical Making Resource Provides practical information for jewelers and silversmiths who want to improve the environmental and social sustainability of their practice, and for buyers and collectors looking for information on purchasing ethically made jewelry and silver.
Ethical Metal Smiths A community of caring buyers, jewelers, designers and suppliers who are committed to responsible, environmental, and social-sound practices.
JVC FTC Guidelines This booklet explains the 2018 revision of the Federal Trade Commission Jewelry Guides and other important laws, regulations and standards in plain language.
Jewelry Industry Summit A space for the jewelry industry join and participate in activities that advance sustainability and responsible sourcing.
Amazon Aid: Jeweler Toolkit includes a list of resources that explain the environmental, social and economic challenges to evaluate while creating a responsible strategy for gold, specifically from artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations.