Two NGOs target gold for smear campaign

In a press release dated Feb. 11, Earthworks/Mineral Policy Center and Oxfam America announced their intention to target gold in a new consumer ad campaign about the environmental and social impacts of mining. At that time, the NGOs announced plans for “dirty gold” protests outside major jewelry stores and subway stations in New York, Boston, and Washington during the Valentine’s Day shopping period. Industry observers in New York, however, did not see any demonstrators outside either Cartier or Piaget, both of which were identified in the press release as protest locations.

Points the NGOs raise, such as the use of cyanide to extract metals, are general mining issues—not solely gold issues—and many are already being addressed.

The World Gold Council issued a formal statement in response to the NGO allegations: “The World Gold Council and its members are conscious of their obligations and responsibilities towards the maintenance of the environment. The Council’s primary members are actively involved in the Industrial Council of Mining and Metals, which supports programs for mining, minerals, and sustainable development.”

“The industry has been aware of these issues and working on [resolving] them all along,” Michael Barlerin, managing director of the World Gold Council in the Americas, told JCK. Additionally, dialogue between the NGOs and the mining and jewelry industries has been going on for more than six months, he added.

Jewelers of America also issued a short statement responding to the NGOs: “Jewelers of America … strongly supports the responsible mining of minerals and metals. The long-term objectives articulated in the recently published report by Earthworks and Oxfam America are consistent with the Jewelers of America mission statement and with our own ongoing commitment to social, ethical, and environmental responsibility. We look forward to working together with all interested stakeholders to assure that the materials used to produce jewelry products are obtained in ways that are environmentally and socially responsible.”

Further information will be published in JCK as it becomes available.