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You pays your money, you takes your choice

I thought we’d have a look at precious metals today and I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the options.

Option 1: 100% recycled metal – post consumer waste/scrap jewellery/industrial waste etc. Not traceable so no way to tell where it originated from, but there’s no new mining, so better environmentally but no positive social implications.

Option 2: Fairmined/Fairtrade metal – artisanal mining (just a few people in a smaller mine). Under the Fairmined scheme, miners are helped to put health, safety and environmental standards in place, children don’t work in the mines, there are positive social implications such as schools, roads, healthcare. Miners earn a fair wage, the mining doesn’t fund wars but new mining still has an environmental impact. The metal is traceable to its source.

Option 3: Single mine of origin metal – will come from a larger mining company, so a bigger mine and thus more environmental impact, but will have good health and safety standards, environmental management, no child labour and doesn’t fund wars, but it is new mining. May or may not have positive social implications. Traceable.

Option 4: Standard metal – will come from a variety of sources, none of which will be traceable e.g post consumer recycled metal, scrap, including some new gold from many different mines. Large mines do bring significant wealth for the countries in which they exist, however local communities are unlikely to benefit, they may no longer be able to mine the area artisanally and are unlikely to have the skills needed to work in the modern mechanised mines. Some metal will have come from artisan miners, who may be working under unsafe conditions, using child labour, mining using practices that affect health e.g. unsafe mercury use .

Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining occurs in approximately 80 countries worldwide. There are approximately 100 million artisanal miners globally. Artisanal and small-scale production supply accounts for 80% of global sapphire, 20% of gold mining and up to 20% of diamond mining. It is widespread in developing countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Central and South America. Though the informal nature and on the whole un-mechanized operation generally results in low productivity, the sector represents an important livelihood and income source for the poverty affected local population. It ensures the existence for millions of families in rural areas of developing countries. About 100 million people – workers and their families – depend on artisanal mining compared to about 7 million people worldwide in industrial mining. (worldbank.org)

So peeps, what do you think, what would be your choice?

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Image credit: source-international.org

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