Responsible Gold Mining Principles Launched

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World Gold Council Addresses Key Issues

In September 2019, The World Gold Council announced the launch of its Responsible Gold Mining Principles, a new framework that clearly depicts the definition of responsible gold mining. The principles are geared to tackle fundamental concerns with social, environmental and governance – all areas recently recognized as becoming increasingly important to the general public and mining community. It is anticipated that these guidelines will become widely known and act as a credible charter through which companies in the gold mining sector can offer a level of confidence that their gold is being sourced and mined in a responsible manner.

Everything under One Umbrella

It is envisioned that the Responsible Gold Mining Principles will identify and unite existing standards and mediums under a single framework. In order to successfully implement the principles, companies who choose to do so are required to approach an independent third-party assurance provider with the aim of obtaining external assurance. The goal of this is to provide additional confidence to gold buyers that the gold they are purchasing was ethically sourced and mined. Industry professionals have expressed hope that the principles will be adopted across the board by both member companies and the mining sector as a whole.

Gold mining in Congo

Welcomed by Industry Professionals

Gary Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer of American gold mining company Newmont Goldcorp, supervised the initiative as a representative of the Board of the World Gold Council. According to Goldberg, every responsible gold mining concern should strictly adhere to robust principles and because of this, members of the World Gold Council joined forces with key stakeholders in the global mining sector to develop the much-needed Responsible Gold Mining Principles. Taking the members’ continued focus on implementing initiatives aimed at improving the environment as well as social and governing performance, formalising this set of principles is believed to be a natural evolution to the mining industry’s daily working practices. Goldberg stated, “It is my hope that these principles will be widely adopted, not only by member companies but by the industry more broadly.”

How it Was Developed

The Responsible Gold Mining Principles was developed through a meticulous consulting and review process which included two phases of external consultation. Over 200 organizations and industry experts made valuable contributions through a digital questionnaire, direct interviews and five roundtables that involved multiple stakeholders. The roundtables were held independently and facilitators summarised discussions with a view of using the information gathered to contribute to the framework. The responses received represented views of a diverse variety of stakeholders such as the civil society, those who participate and invest in the supply chain, global organisations and government bodies. This level of feedback was crucial to the development of the Responsible Gold Mining Principles.

The Responsible Gold Mining Principles

The framework comprises of the following ten principles:

  1. Ethical conduct – The company commits to conducting business honestly and with integrity.
  2. Understanding impacts – The company will implement systems that ensure that the impact it makes is understood and managed so that opportunities are realised and redress can be made where required.
  3. Supply chain – Suppliers will be required to conduct business responsibly and ethically as a provision of forming business associations.
  4. Health and safety – The company commits to promoting the occupational health and safekeeping of all employees and contractors
  5. Human rights – Human rights will be upheld in terms of all employees and contractors, local communities and everyone else the company interacts with.
  6. Labour rights – All operations will be free from abusive labour practices and discrimination and the company will ensure that employees and contractors are treated with fairness and respect.
  7. Community work – The company will strive to contribute to the social and economic development of local communities.
  8. Environmental stewardship – The company will ensure that environmental responsibility is fundamental to all operations.
  9. Biodiversity – Fragile ecosystems, endangered species and critical habitats will be protected.
  10. Energy, water and climate change – The effective use of energy and water will be upheld, and the impact of climate change will be recognized.

Gold mining in Congo

Implementation and Policy

In addition to the requirement to obtain third-party assurance, it is compulsory for companies applying the Responsible Gold Mining Principles to ensure that assurance takes place on a corporate level as well as on-site. It is also a requirement for these companies to publically disclose their compliance with the Responsible Gold Mining Principles and third party assurance.

Massive Improvement in Trust

Terry Heymann, the World Gold Council Chief’s Financial Officer, announced that the council has released the Responsible Gold Mining Principles with the objective of reinforcing trust in the gold mining industry. Once the principles are implemented, everybody in the industry, from consumers to investors and everyone involved in the downstream gold supply chain, will have the conviction to state that their gold has been sourced and mined responsibly.

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