Gold Industry Standard Aims to Curb Conflict Minerals

Primary tabs

Gold Industry Standard Aims to Curb Conflict Minerals

tweet me:
Gold industry standard from @GOLDCOUNCIL aims to curb conflict minerals http://3bl.me/gf5y4r #mining
Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 9:45am

While the price of gold has risen steadily in recent years, so too has the number of armed groups involved in conflicts and insurgencies that turn to the metal as a way to finance their unlawful actions.

 
These conflicts often lead to the suffering of innocent civilians and communities, and can be associated with serious human rights abuses for which Barrick has zero tolerance at its operations around the world.
 
To help tackle the issue of so-called “conflict minerals” and build trust among gold buyers, the World Gold Council (WGC) recently released its Conflict-Free Gold Standard. The Standard was developed over two years with input from a wide range of stakeholders and assistance from many of the WGC’s key members, including Barrick.
 
“What we’ve come up with is something very progressive,” says Peter Sinclair, Barrick’s Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), who worked with other Barrick colleagues and WGC members to help develop the Standard.
 
“It tackles an issue which is of real concern to many stakeholders across the sector.”
 
“Conflict minerals,” which include gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten, have been mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses in some parts of the world, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
 
While Barrick doesn’t operate in the Congo or other intense conflict areas that the Standard targets, the conflict minerals issue has impacted the industry’s overall reputation, Sinclair says.
 
“We are viewed as a leader in the industry, and our involvement in this process demonstrates we are committed to taking a proactive position on behalf of the industry,” he says.
 
The Standard’s goal is to help companies demonstrate they are operating responsibly, even if they operate in conflict zones. It sets out a common approach for WGC members and other implementing companies to demonstrate that their gold production does not fuel or finance conflict. And importantly, the Standard’s third-party audit process helps a company independently verify claims and put this information into the public domain.
 
The Standard is voluntary, which, according to the WGC, shows that companies that implement it are truly concerned about the issues it covers. The Standard contains a set of criteria, but how these are met is at the discretion of individual companies, recognizing that each gold company operates differently and in different operating contexts.
 
“As a global mining company, Barrick needs to be able to provide accurate information about its responsible mining practices and supply chain to satisfy not only its stakeholders, but also a regulatory climate that, increasingly, requires disclosure from manufacturers who use gold in their products as to the source of the gold,” says Jennifer Mazin, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Barrick.
 
The Standard is closely aligned with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which Barrick has adopted. It is intended to complement and operationalize the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Due Diligence Guidance, which focuses on supply chain assurances.
 
The WGC released a draft of the Standard in June 2011 and invited feedback from a broad range of stakeholders including governments, supply chain participants, nongovernmental organizations, investors and academics. That input was incorporated into the final document, which helped make it more credible, according to Krista Hendry, Executive Director of Fund for Peace.
 
“That the industry has come together and created something that is voluntary but is also verifiable and will be audited is incredibly important,” Hendry says in a video released by the WGC about the Standard.
 
Barrick played a key role in developing the Standard, says Terry Heymann, Director of Responsible Gold at the WGC, citing the company’s work in areas such as human rights and security as being benefi cial to the development of the Standard and its relevancy.
 
The new Standard won’t result in the need for big changes across Barrick’s operations, given that the company already adheres to internationally recognized standards in areas such as human rights, community relations and security. Still, Sinclair says the company is continuously improving efforts in all areas, in particular CSR.
 
“This will further enhance and strengthen our systems on the ground and provide assurance to our stakeholders that we are not contributing to armed groups and their unlawful actions,” he says.
 
The Standard will be effective as of January 1, 2013. For more information on the Standard, please visit www.gold.org

parse.ly