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Perth Mint receives orders to audit conflict gold purchasing allegations, stops taking artisanal gold

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(Kitco News) The Perth Mint has begun an independent third-party audit after an order from Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan to review how the Mint oversees its suppliers, following allegations of buying conflict gold from Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Last week, the Australian Financial Review said its investigation revealed that the Mint buys up to $138 million (AUD$200 million) worth of gold a year from companies that buy gold from artisanal miners within PNG.

Read more about the accusations against The Perth Mint here

The Mint denied the allegations, stating that it does adhere to responsibility guidelines.

“We take Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting very seriously and are vigilant in our assessments of the companies from which we source gold and other metals for processing,” Perth Mint chief executive officer Richard Hayes said in an emailed statement to Kitco News. “We remain confident that we comply fully with all regulatory requirements and the responsible gold guidelines set out by the global gold industry's governing bodies.”

In a follow-up to the story, the Australian Financial Review reported that McGowan requested that Perth Mint chairman Sam Walsh lead the investigation into the matter.

“I have initiated an independent third-party review of the Perth Mint’s audit processes,” Walsh said. “The review will also assess the arrangements with licensed counterparties that may deal with artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) … Effective immediately as part of this process, the Perth Mint has suspended relationships with all companies and aggregators dealing with ASM.”

The Perth Mint is owned by the Western Australian Government and has London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) accreditation.

Last week, the LBMA said that it will also be investigating allegations against The Perth Mint. The Mint could lose its LBMA accreditation if found that it violated the ethical purchasing guidelines.

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