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Somersetmaker
07-11-2009, 09:21 AM
I was asked by a customer recently whether my metals are ethically sourced.
What can I tell them please Cooksons?

Carl Martin
08-11-2009, 01:14 AM
Interesting question, something I have often wondered myself, not just of cooksons but also other suppliers.

Rob Taylor
09-11-2009, 04:30 PM
There is no clear answer to this issue and it will remain so for the near future. The supply chain issue around the RJC principles is the control of gold flow. Today raw material recovered from mines is sent for refining. We are unaware of any method/practise today that segregates each mine’s batches and out turns in any refinery. This lack of traceability is then exacerbated as the fine gold is delivered to Banks for general use; there is no link to the refiners’ batch or the refiner.

The principle within the Industry therefore has to be to only deal with audited suppliers, but that supply chain commitment has to include refineries and Banks, an area, we believe which has yet to be addressed.

Also what must not be overlooked is the massive amount of recycling that takes place in the Jewellery Industry. From one perspective this of course makes us very ‘green’ in the sense all of our products are recyclable, and maybe 50% of Industry output is made from scrap product which has been recycled, but there is no traceability at all within this supply chain.

“The Golden Rules” which we sign up to, call on mining companies to meet the following basic standards in their operations:

• Respect for basic human rights outlined in international conventions and law.
• Free, prior and informed consent of affected communities.
• Safe working conditions.
• Respect for workers’ rights and labour standards.
• Ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarised conflict.
• Ensure that projects do not force communities off their lands.
• No dumping of wastes into the ocean, rivers, lakes or streams.
• Ensure that projects are not located in protected areas, fragile ecosystems or other areas oh high conservation or ecological value.
• Ensure that projects do not generate sulphuric acid in perpetuity.
• Cover all costs of closing down and cleaning up mine sites.
• Fully disclose information about social and environmental effects of projects.
• Allow independent verification of the above

Hope this helps

Di Sandland
09-11-2009, 04:38 PM
Do you know what? Whilst I am only too aware of the ethics in the diamond mining industry - the ethics of the metal industry really hadn't crossed my mind! Dumb but no longer blond ;)

I think that all any company can do is avoid unavoidable exploitation of people or land - if that makes sense.

Rob, the CG stance seems just fine to me.

Boo
09-11-2009, 04:50 PM
The odd customer has asked me about the ethical source of the raw materials.

Are all precious metals the same in this regard - not just gold - as I can see that the same problems occur for them all - untraceable raw supply chain (some sources must be very tiny and their output just included with the materials from larger operations geographically close to them) and mixed with recycled metal too?

It's the answer I've been giving as it was explained to me this way a little while ago, by a geologist who owns a gold mine.

Somersetmaker
09-11-2009, 10:26 PM
There is no clear answer to this issue and it will remain so for the near future. The supply chain issue around the RJC principles is the control of gold flow. Today raw material recovered from mines is sent for refining. We are unaware of any method/practise today that segregates each mine’s batches and out turns in any refinery. This lack of traceability is then exacerbated as the fine gold is delivered to Banks for general use; there is no link to the refiners’ batch or the refiner.

The principle within the Industry therefore has to be to only deal with audited suppliers, but that supply chain commitment has to include refineries and Banks, an area, we believe which has yet to be addressed.

Also what must not be overlooked is the massive amount of recycling that takes place in the Jewellery Industry. From one perspective this of course makes us very ‘green’ in the sense all of our products are recyclable, and maybe 50% of Industry output is made from scrap product which has been recycled, but there is no traceability at all within this supply chain.

“The Golden Rules” which we sign up to, call on mining companies to meet the following basic standards in their operations:

• Respect for basic human rights outlined in international conventions and law.
• Free, prior and informed consent of affected communities.
• Safe working conditions.
• Respect for workers’ rights and labour standards.
• Ensure that operations are not located in areas of armed or militarised conflict.
• Ensure that projects do not force communities off their lands.
• No dumping of wastes into the ocean, rivers, lakes or streams.
• Ensure that projects are not located in protected areas, fragile ecosystems or other areas oh high conservation or ecological value.
• Ensure that projects do not generate sulphuric acid in perpetuity.
• Cover all costs of closing down and cleaning up mine sites.
• Fully disclose information about social and environmental effects of projects.
• Allow independent verification of the above

Hope this helps

Thank you for the info Rob.

Its a great list - nothing to argue with there.

But is there independant verification that mining companies are complying? Without that their self-certification is worth not a lot.

If companies such as Cooksons only bought from mining companies independantly verified as being ethical would this not largely address the problem? It takes large buyers of precious metals to insist on independant verification to make it work.

I would be delighted to hear that Cooksons, AND any other similar company, were able to do this.

PS JasonJohn - would that all the public were so informed! Then they'd also know some of the wider aspects and that consiousness would maybe not allow large open-cast mines to destroy native communities in Central America.

I'm not an activist - I've heard a couple of pieces on Radio 4 and have just read a few articles from googling 'gold mining problems ethical'. But I buy a bit of gold and a lot more silver and I want to be able to answer my own and my customers' questions.

Rob Taylor
10-11-2009, 11:01 AM
"But is there independant verification that mining companies are complying? Without that their self-certification is worth not a lot."

Most large scale purchasers of bullion do not buy from mining companies they buy from Banks and refiners. This is for guarantees of supply, certification of quality, the desire to buy bars and not refined ore, etc. The Banks and refiners do not make available or keep records of verification of sourcing. This is the part of the auditable process I feel is missing.

Then, when more than half of the alloy is from recycled sources this complicates any traceability even further.

Whenever the question of ethical gold is raised, several pundits are always quoted as 'we always buy from verified mine x in the amazon basin'. The reality is they only buy small quantities per year. We are unable to source the quantity of bullion we need from any multiple number of independant mines and we, like other suppliers to the trade need to source in bulk.

Cooksons are committed to encouraging change in this area and remain part of the active debate within the supply chain.

I should have mentioned this also applies to other precious metals; gold however seems most peoples' focus in this debate.

Somersetmaker
10-11-2009, 01:22 PM
Thanks again Rob for your explaination. And yes, I was aware of the same applying to other, including base metals (eg Radio 4's feature on metal recycling via scrap metal merchants and trying to stop manhole covers being melted down by the unscrupulous).

I agree the independant verification needs to be pushed on the refiners then How do you think we (Cooksons and your customers) can edge up the pressure to get the independant verification of standards of mining pushed up in the consiousness of refining companies? (I don't know about banks - they seem to have their own rules for everything else so . . . <_< :rolleyes: )

shelliem
10-11-2009, 07:29 PM
Interesting thread - thank you for the information.

Petal
10-11-2009, 07:38 PM
(I don't know about banks - they seem to have their own rules for everything else so . . . <_< :rolleyes: )


Banks, don't talk to me about them [-X I'm afraid if they hadn't been propped up by us, out lives would be a lot better without them. They .... no, I don't think I can say any more, otherwise I'll explode with rage :(|

Interesting thread, though, about the treaceability of silver/gold etc.

Rob Taylor
11-11-2009, 07:59 AM
"How do you think we (Cooksons and your customers) can edge up the pressure to get the independant verification of standards of mining pushed up in the consiousness of refining companies?"

Cooksons are members of trade bodies and we lobby for change, I can only suggest that you do the same. I don't think change will be quick though.