* Fairtrade Gold volumes set to reach 350 kg this year
* Expansion into Africa unveiled one year after launch
* Four groups in Latin America certified so far
By Jan Harvey
March 6 The Fairtrade Foundation will
begin working with African gold miners for the first time this
year, the organisation said on Tuesday, 12 months after it
launched the Fairtrade Gold brand with metal sourced from Latin
The organisation will work with eight mining groups in
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to address dangerous working
practices and environmental damage in small-scale gold mining.
Fairtrade said in a statement mining in Africa often
involves the use of hazardous mercury, deforestation, poor
working conditions and child labour. The group expects gold to
arrive in the UK from Africa in the next two or three years.
"Through the financial and developmental benefits of
Fairtade - including additional premium, pre-finance and
long-term business relations with traders - ... more producers
have a chance to lift themselves out of poverty," the Fairtrade
Foundation's business development manager Victoria Waugh said in
Four mining groups, all in Latin America, were
certified by Fairtrade in the first year of the standard, which
was launched on Valentine's Day 2011. Two more are expected to
receive certification in May.
Fairtrade said the Peruvian town of Santa Filomena,
certified by the group a year ago, had used the premium they
receive for their gold to invest in healthcare, extend its
primary school and buy computers for older students.
The organisation expects around 350 kg of Fairtrade gold,
worth some $19.1 million at current spot prices, to be produced
this year. The group tends to work with small-scale and
Forty jewellers currently use Fairtrade gold in their
designs, including Alex Monroe, Anna Loucah, and Stephen
Webster, who designed singer Madonna's wedding ring for her
marriage to film producer Guy Ritchie.
While the standard has received vocal support from the
industry, the premium of Fairtrade gold over metal sourced on
the international markets, which the group says is 10-15
percent, can make it expensive for jewellers at a time when spot
gold prices are more than five times higher than a decade ago.
(Editing by James Jukwey)