New Canadian System Ensures Conflict-Free Gold-Supply Chain In Congo
(Kitco News) - Partnership Africa Canada said it launched a new system that can fully trace conflict-free and legal artisanal gold from a mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo to any consumer.
On Monday, the partnership announced that a Toronto-based jeweler completed its first export via the system.
“Fair Trade Jewellery Co., a Toronto-based pioneer in ethical sourcing, sustainability and retail, imported 238 grams in three gold doré bars to Canada,” Partnership Africa Canada said in a press release.
The process was a difficult one, involving payments of 26 different taxes and fees, which amounted to 15% of the gold’s $8,450 value. The people involved in the project are currently trying to make the system less complicated to follow.
“Challenges faced during this export – [including] high export taxes, transportation restrictions, and burdensome paperwork -- will be used by Partnership Africa Canada to call on the Congolese government to create more favorable conditions for legal trade and responsible investment,” the press release stated.
The first successful export comes just a month after Partnership Africa Canada announced the Just Gold project, which aims to ensure a complete traceability of legal and conflict-free artisanal gold in DRC.
The goal is to provide detailed information that is easy to follow -- everything from listing the exact pit the gold came from to which miners were present during extraction.
“After almost two years of testing the Just Gold project with an aim to develop a chain of custody and due diligence system for artisanal gold in DRC, we are excited to share news of our success,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada's executive director.
“The Just Gold project can now move from a period of testing to implementation and ensuring we have a long-term, sustainable and viable solution for traceable, legal and conflict-free exports of artisanal gold from Congo,” added Lebert.
There are already more than 600 miners registered with the Just Gold project across six sites.
The system creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to encourage them to move their precious metals through legal channels.
“[This is done] by offering fair and transparent pricing and by providing capacity-building, such as technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and offered Just Gold project equipment, in return for which any gold produced must be tracked and sold through legal channels,” the press release stated.
This kind of system is beneficial to Congo’s gold industry, especially considering that 98% of the small-scale gold mined in eastern Congo is smuggled out of the country, according to United Nations estimates.
“Saying that it is impossible to carry out due diligence on gold supply chains is no longer a valid argument for industry. We have proven otherwise,” said Lebert. “[The first] export from Bunia, DRC to Toronto proved that it is possible to bring Canadian and international consumers traced conflict-free Congolese artisanal gold.”