Gold supply chains are complex, making transparency challenging. Gold is also valuable, malleable and easily transported. Gold is easy to smuggle, exchangeable worldwide, and traded anonymously through cash transactions. Because of its value, gold may be traded in small volumes, making it difficult to trace. The risks in the gold supply chain are particularly acute and extend to risks related to the financial flows in a way that 3T (tin, tantalum, tungsten) or cobalt supply chain risks may not. Some actors in the gold sector have been linked to financial crimes such as corruption, money laundering, theft, smuggling, fraud, and tax evasion, as well as human rights abuses stemming from organized crime and terrorist financing. Recognizing the complexities of this commodity, the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) maintains a stand-alone standard for gold. RMI also provides guidance and resources to support downstream and upstream companies in conducting individual due diligence in their supply chains to identify, assess and address such risks.
What We Do
We work to create the enabling conditions for companies to exercise due diligence over gold supply chains in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance. The RMI added gold as a dedicated focus area in 2011. And, recognizing the complex risk issues unique to gold sourcing and the need to encourage a growing number of small- and medium-scale gold refiners in different regions of the world (China, India, South America, African Great Lakes, etc.) to demonstrate due diligence, the RMI launched a dedicated gold working group in 2016.
- The RMI provides tools and resources for companies to conduct due diligence on gold supply chains in accordance with internationally recognized frameworks, including the OECD Minerals Due Diligence Guidance overall and the Supplement on Gold in particular.
- RMI Guidance on Due Diligence in the Gold Supply Chain
- The RMI’s Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) provides independent third-party assessments through an OECD-aligned industry mechanism for gold refiners.
- The RMI engages stakeholders along the gold value chains to ensure the complementarity of programs and works toward their alignment with market expectations.
- Since 2012 the RMI has collaborated with other industry initiatives such as the LBMA and RJC, which have similar OECD-aligned assurance programs, to develop a cross-recognition. The RMI recognizes the outcomes of the assessments from these programs and lists them in the RMI smelter database, alongside gold refiners that the RMI audits and finds to be in-conformance.
- The RMI supports projects in conflict-affected and high-risk areas to encourage responsible sourcing of gold, especially on the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) level.
For more information, please contact RMI@responsiblebusiness.org.
What You Can Do
The RMI encourages companies to use the following programs, tools and resources to support their due diligence on gold supply chains:
- Map your supply chain using the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template.
- Read the Revised RMAP Gold Standard to know more about expectations for gold refiners and due diligence in gold supply chains.
- Consult the list of active gold refiners and conformant gold refiners to learn about entities that undergo an independent third-party assessment in accordance with the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process.
- Visit the RMI’s eLearning Academy and training page for publicly available training sessions for your company, your suppliers and gold refiners on due diligence in gold supply chains.
- Use the Risk Readiness Assessment to access self-assessments of gold refiners and producers on key social, environmental and governance issue areas.
- As an RMI member, join our gold working group to shape the tools and resources developed for due diligence on gold supply chains as well as to access reports from our on-the-ground activities.
- Engourage gold refiners to lear about benefits of RMAP assessment
- Support ASGM – The RMI maintains a list of artisanal gold projects that companies can collaborate with and/or support.
- Contribute to the RMI Audit Fund and Upstream Due Diligence Fund to support gold refiner due diligence and assurance processes.
For more information, please contact Marianna Smirnova.
Support for Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM)
The RMI actively supports and encourages member involvement in initiatives that create economic and development opportunities for artisanal and small-scale miners.
ASM gold miners are highly mobile and operations are often informal. This is partly why it is difficult to obtain information about gold from ASM sources. Quickly changing circumstances in artisanal gold mining make it challenging for upstream assurance mechanisms to implement robust systems. While there are a number of upstream assurance mechanisms, such as CRAFT implementing schemes (including EPRM funded projects such as STAG), Fairtrade, BGI, Fairmined and IMPACT, but most of the systems are currently small scale. As there is no “one size fits all” solution, refiners may engage in their own due diligence. As a result, companies largely have to conduct due diligence on their own or with support of independent consultants without relying on the upstream assurance mechanisms.
The RMI working on several approaches to encourage scaling up of responsible ASM gold sourcing, including recognition of the CRAFT scheme and other upstream mechanisms for gold, setting up Upstream Due Diligence Fund through the RBA Foundation, spearheading RMI's gold aggregator research and pilot assessments, as a critical link between informal ASM gold sector and the global fine gold refiners, as well as engaging on specific regional projects with the view of possible future replication at scale.
Some steps companies can take to support ASM:
- Support responsible gold sourcing opportunities and livelihood opportunities in mining communities with financial investment and public support, especially for ASM in conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRAs)
- Learn more about the organizations that RMI members, as well as smelters or refiners (SORs), can get involved in below.
RMI Supported Projects:
The Artisanal Gold Council, RESOLVE, the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) and Private Sector Partners are Scaling-up Trade in Artisanal Gold in Burkina Faso
We are pleased to announce a new project: Scalable Trade in Artisanal Gold (STAG) in Burkina Faso. Funded by the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM), STAG is a three-year project focused on scaling up legal trade in artisanal gold. The project will connect upstream field sites to the midstream through the RMI’s Responsible Minerals Assurance Program (RMAP) and the CRAFT Code, and will engage and educate downstream buyers through its Progressive Due Diligence Lab. “Engage to Improve” is both the motto of the project and the strategy that it is using to improve Burkina Faso’s artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector.
Burkina Faso is the fourth largest industrial gold producer in Africa and it has an equally large and thriving artisanal gold mining sector. A number of areas within Burkina Faso are also identified as conflict-affected and high-risk (CAHRAs) on the European Union CAHRAs list. As part of the STAG project partners will be working to foster and support responsible mineral sourcing from CAHRAs. Artisanal gold mining is a major source of livelihood for over 700,000 miners. Traditional Burkinabe gold traders operate informally and are therefore disconnected from international markets. Meanwhile, despite recognizing the importance of sourcing gold from artisanal miners to deliver needed resources for community development, refiners and downstream companies remain challenged to identify and validate legitimate artisanal gold sources. Compliance requirements and reputational risks that are difficult to navigate and implement play a large role in this disconnection.
ASM gold miners in Burkina Faso weighing gold. Photo credit Kevin Telmer, AGC.
The new AGC-RESOLVE-RMI project expects to engage roughly 6,000 miners from various gold mining communities in Burkina Faso, and will create a commercially viable sustainable sourcing system to scale-up trade in responsibly produced artisanal gold. This will benefit local artisanal gold miners and their communities by paying them more for their gold. By formalizing and professionalizing artisanal mining, STAG will enable these gold supply chains to become more resilient and fair. Similarly, downstream businesses and consumers can benefit by obtaining greater access to responsible sourcing systems and commercially viable volumes of artisanal gold. To accomplish this, the project will create and implement a custom Burkinabé version of the CRAFT sourcing code for artisanal gold and will be the first to implement the Upstream Assurance Mechanism in this context, with the aim to gain formal recognition by the Responsible Minerals Initiative.
For more information, please contact Tegan Holmes at AGC, and Jennifer Peyser and Marianna Smirnova at RMI. Read full press release on the RMI's news page here.
Additional ASM Gold Programs & Resources
Below is a description of additional responsible gold programs and projects in which RMI members, as well as gold refiners, aggregators and other stakeholders can get involved.
The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM works to transform the sector through a holistic strategy and a wide range of services for miners, the gold industry, public entities and anyone else working with the sector. If you wish to trade or use Fairmined certified gold, you can learn about their flexible models for the jewelry, electronics and finance (coins and ingots) industries on their website.
The Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) is a not-for-profit dedicated to improving the opportunities, environment, and health of the millions of people involved in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in the developing world. The AGC is working to change the landscape of mining worldwide through education and training of artisanal and small-scale gold miners to improve the health and safety of workers, as well as decrease the environmental impact of the global gold sector.
RESOLVE and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have partnered to develop the Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale mining engaged in Formal Trade (CRAFT), a new code of practice that helps miners and their buyers to assess critical social and environmental risks in artisanal supply chains – such as child labor, illicit trade, and uncontrolled use of chemicals – and to track progress in mitigating these and other risks. The RMI participated in the CRAFT Standard Committee and Advisory Group and is working to link the RMAP assessment program with CRAFT (similarly to other upstream standards and assurance mechanisms such as ICGLR, IRMA, ITSCI and RCS Global Group / Better Mining) to help smelters and refiners demonstrate due diligence in sourcing from the upstream.
Fairtrade gold and precious metals is an initiative that offers support and access to market for small-scale miners around the world. It links consumers of jewelry with the source of their purchase, through Fairtrade standards and certification. Achieving Fairtrade certification requires small-scale mining organizations to meet rigorous Fairtrade standards on working conditions, child labor, women’s rights, clean technology, health and safety, organizational management, democratic decision-making, transparency and traceability of their mining operations and responsible environmental management, to produce a gold product that can be labeled as Fairtrade.
For general information about responsible Artisanal Small-scale Mining (ASM) sourcing, see the OECD Factsheet on Sourcing gold from ASM Miners.
IMPACT, formerly Partnership Africa Canada’s (PAC) Just Gold (Or Juste) project aims to develop an independent, equitable and sustainable system that brings legal, conflict-free, and traceable gold from artisanal mine sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to international markets. PAC has developed the Just Gold project to test models of traceability and due diligence implementation, in an effort to formalize the artisanal gold mining sector in DRC. The Just Gold project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by providing technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales.
One of the PPA’s goals is “to support the development of supply chain systems that enable supply chain actors to source minerals that are validated, certified, and traced to mines that are conflict-free, and monitored and audited using agreed-upon standards and mechanisms, and that lead to scalable, responsible, self-sustaining minerals trade in the GLR."
The Responsible Artisanal Gold Solutions Forum (Forum) is a multi-stakeholder coalition seeking to learn about and address critical barriers to the production and trade of artisanal gold from the Great Lakes Region in a way that verifiably meets national, regional and international laws and standards for responsible sourcing. The Forum is working with the pilots to deliver that gold to responsible refiners, jewelers and other downstream users.
Solidaridad’s improvement program for small-scale mining is the largest in the world, with over 5,000 miners and an estimated 35,000 mining community members. They work in 26 mining communities, across eight countries, providing capacity-building and improvement programs on the ground with Gold ASM.
Tetra Tech and USAID Capacity Building for Responsible Mineral Trade (CBRMT) pilot projects on ASM Gold in the DRC. The team is knowledgeable about opportunities and challenges in securing a responsible gold supply chain in the Great Lakes Region.