Two standards expected over the coming year for certification of responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining

Solidaridad’s Statement on the End of the Partnership Between ARM and FLO

Fairtrade International (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have announced that they will end their formal partnership on April 21, 2013. Solidaridad uses the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard, which has been co-administered by ARM and FLO under this partnership, as a tool for developing better practices in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM) communities. We are currently supporting over 5,200 ASM miners in seven countries in the Global South, as well as working in partnership with buyers of certified gold in the European jewellery market.

The decision of FLO and ARM is expected to offer more flexibility and a choice for our partners in the gold supply chain, such as miners and jewellers. However, in the short term it may raise questions among stakeholders as ARM and FLO decide how to proceed. While the decision by FLO and ARM will result in changes to the certification system available in the sector, it does not change Solidaridad’s core work in ASM communities: enabling miners to adopt better environmental and social practices, and to connect with buyers of gold who share this mission.

A transition period for Fairtrade and Fairmined 

ARM and FLO began their partnership in 2009 to jointly develop and administer the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard. Certified products were labeled with two marks: the Fairtrade mark that belongs to FLO and the Fairmined mark that belongs to ARM. In the coming months, each organisation will develop its own standard in further consultation with stakeholders. The new standards are expected to include environmental and social criteria for the miners that are similar to the requirements in the existing standard. However, the new standards may have new and different requirements for downstream buyers in terms of gold processing, traceability and labeling. Greater flexibility on pricing, including the premium level, is also expected. These changes will result in new options for buyers of certified gold that many buyers will welcome. This may lead to increased sales, ultimately benefitting more mining communities.

The transition between the existing system and the new standards is expected to extend through the end of 2013. ARM and FLO will send updates when they have more certainty on the next steps. In the mean time, there will be a transition period during which certified companies will keep their certification for the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard and can continue to trade as usual until they receive updates from FLO and ARM.

Solidaridad is open to working with multiple certification systems

As with all of its commodity programmes, Solidaridad is open to working with multiple certification systems in the gold sector as long as each meets minimum criteria and adds impact value in the sector. As FLO and ARM develop their standards independently, Solidaridad will actively engage in the process by sharing our recommendations with them. We encourage other stakeholders to do the same. Solidaridad also encourages FLO and ARM to offer cross-recognition of the other organisation’s criteria, particularly at the mine level, to allow gold producers, traders and buyers to more easily and efficiently certify their operations to both standards if they so choose.

When the new standards are finalised, Solidaridad will support its supply chain partners in making decisions that work best for them, and that support a better future in ASM communities.