Today, there are entities that talk about promoting responsible gold and artisanal mining, but little is said about what being a responsible gold certification and joint work with mining organizations on their way to fair markets really means. A certification that accompanies, provides feedback to each phase of the process, offers transparency to consumers, analyzes the audit results and guarantees compliance of strict standards. This is why today I want to talk about the Fairmined standard, behind its task of connecting small-scale miners with companies in the gold industry that seek to generate social and environmental impact. Why is Fairmined certification a success?
The trust and robustness that this Fairmined certification provides to all the actors involved are possible through 4 central pillars, which guarantee responsible mining and the gold to be proud of:
1. Supported by a legitimate AND STRUCTURED standard
That’s rights, the Fairmined Certification is supported by a legitimate and structured standard made by experts and actors in the sector, which is born from the first responsible Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) standard in the world, the Zero standard. The current Fairmined standard (version 2.0) that certifies small-scale mining organizations was developed through a participatory process, following the good practices of the ISEAL Code. A committee was created made up of miners, actors of the industry, and ASM experts. It had a broad public consultation where 130 actors and multiple stakeholders from Latin America, Africa, the United States, and Asia participated.
The Fairmined requirements are aligned with international sustainability frameworks for the sector such as the OECD Due Diligence Guide, the Conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Minamata Convention, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ISO, among others. In addition, Fairmined is recognized by relevant organizations in responsible mineral supply chains such as the OECD, LBMA, RMI, RJC, and IRMA, among others.
Currently, the Fairmined standard is under review in order to respond to the new dynamics and development challenges of the sector, making a difference as the standard that the center has in ASM, providing it with the most significant incentive and constantly listening and learning.
2. Progressive improvement program for the ASM
Fairmined is part of a progressive improvement program. Mining organizations begin a path of continuous improvement from the moment they make the decision to become certified and ratify it every year by completing their audit and assuming new responsibilities.
The center of Fairmined certification is the well-being of miners and their families, through the positive transformation of their organizations. Companies in the gold industry trust the initiative for its impact and because it gives them access to certified gold that meets due diligence requirements and high environmental, labor, and social indicators.
Fairmined works together with certified mining organizations, and industry players who have said YES I want to contribute to ASM: NGOs and local allies, local and national governments, auditing companies, and informed consumers who are wondering where the gold comes from. Currently, there are more than 393 companies in 33 countries, and more continue to be added, joining the Fairmined Initiative is an open and permanent invitation to all those interested who want to generate a positive impact on the planet.
3. audited and detailed verification
Fairmined implements different actions to verify the performance of certified mining organizations according to the standard:
• Designing the sustainability plan: In this phase, the Alliance for Responsible Mining’s specialized team visits and establishes a relationship of trust with the miners. It carries out a comprehensive evaluation to build a participatory path towards compliance with the standard.
• Conducting a pre-audit: this phase is guided by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, here the mining organization is prepared for the audit, which will be carried out by an external and independent company (currently NaturaCert and IMO cert) that provides impartiality to the process.
• Conducting the audit: The auditors carry out the verification of documents, facilities, and conduct interviews with the miners. With these results, the company issues a certificate. This is a key factor for Fairmined, as ISEAL mentions in the Assurance Code and adapted to the ISO 17000 law, Fairmined has the issuance of a third party, the auditing firm, which certifies compliance with the specified requirements.
• Communicating the results: Fairmined shares publicly the reports of the audits, and informs about news of the mining organizations. Market players who buy Fairmined gold can make claims about their involvement with Fairmined, providing a transparent story to their customers. Fairmined licensed brands and authorized suppliers can share information about the impact of the Initiative.
In the photo: Woman miner from Cecomip Mining organization and Hélène Grassin from Paulette à Bicyclette, Fairmined licensed jewelry brand
Fairmined works to guarantee transparent processes for the different actors involved, and shares with the public the information about the standard, and the mining organizations’ audit results. For this reason, on the Fairmined website there are different consultation documents:
- ✔️ Results of the construction of the standard and its updating process (committee rules, meeting minutes, etc.)
- ✔️ Fairmined certification procedures and formats applicable to mining organizations and assurance for market players.
- ✔️ Criteria and guidelines for audit firms.
- ✔️ Lists of current actors and their status.
- ✔️ Profiles of certified mining organizations and their public audit summaries.
- ✔️The impact and reports of the Fairmined premium investments.
In addition, Fairmined ensures traceability and information management, which is why Fairmined transactions are monitored with the Fairmined Connect software, which is also used for document management of audits and certifications.