Mining is a hazardous activity that involves tough working conditions, strict regulations and handling of dangerous chemicals, depending on the geology and type of material being mined. All these factors hurt the environment and artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM). ASMs lack proper resources and knowledge to abide by the law, protect themselves or demand fair prices in international markets.
Fairtrade certification is provided to suppliers and miners of precious metals who abide by strict regulations about socially and environmentally responsible mining practices and it helps miners who abide by their standards to get internationally competitive prices. Five leading Britain casting houses have recently agreed to stock Fairtrade gold jewellery.
Fair trade standards have been created for other products such as coffee, cocoa and tea. Presently there is no fair trade certification for diamonds. Brilliant Earth has stated that it is working with Fairtrade International to create a Fairtrade standard for Diamonds in future. Such a certification could help reduce labor abuse and environmental harm in the diamond industry. A fair trade diamond standard could help organise diggers into cooperatives, cut out unethical middlemen, and allow diamond diggers to earn their fair share of the profits. Fair trade diamonds could also transform diamond mining communities by generating funds to invest in basic necessities such as clean water, medical care, and education.
Today, more than 1.3 million people – farmers, workers and their families – across 70 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system. Including diamond miners in the Fairtrade community would only help extend this impact.