Figure of the month: 100 million

News Arnulf Hinkel – 02.10.2017

Apart from industrial gold production by large mining companies, an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of gold is produced by artisanal and small-scale miners, the so-called ASMs. In Ghana, at some 30 percent, the share is even larger. Worldwide, approximately 15 million people work as ASMs, and according to the World Gold Council, around 100 million people depend directly or indirectly on the fruits of old-fashioned artisanal gold digging. For these people, gold prospecting is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the work is hard and often hazardous, on the other, gold digging is a comparatively attractive source of income in the regions where most gold diggers can be found. In addition to African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Ghana, ASMs are mainly located in America, that is is Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador or Peru. Unfortunately, only in rare cases ASMs receive the market value for their hard-won gold: on average, they get only about 70 per cent of the internationally accepted price, since there are up to six levels of middlemen between the ASMs and the gold manufacturers.

In February 2011, Fairtrade International and the Alliance for Responsible Gold Mining created "Fairtrade Gold", guaranteeing fair prices to suppliers, comparable to Fair Trade Coffee. "Fairtrade Gold" offers a price guarantee to ASMs of 95 per cent of the gold price set by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), but is not limited to it: it aims to improve ASMs' living and working conditions, e.g. by eliminating child labour, strengthening miners' organizations and abandoning the use of chemicals harmful not only for the environment but also for gold prospectors. Buyers of Fairtrade Gold have to pay a premium of 15 percent on the LBMA price to cover these additional costs.

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