As gold mining executives gather in Colorado for back-to-back conferences this month, the World Gold Council is hoping to polish the sector’s image with the release of a new responsible mining framework.
Released on Thursday, and nearly two years in the making, the Responsible Gold Mining Principles aim to create a set of global standards certifying that bullion has been extracted, processed and refined with a nod to environmental, social and governance issues.
The principles come at a time when all corporations are facing increasing scrutiny of their operations and supply chains from investors, consumers and activists. The gold mining sector in particular has been trying to clean up its reputation in the wake of environmental disasters, such as the Mount Polley Mine tailings dam failure in British Columbia in 2014, as well as reports of human rights abuses at mines abroad.
“Undoubtedly, a part of this is continuing to build the trust in gold,” said Terry Heymann, chief financial officer of the World Gold Council, “and helping consumers to understand the products that they buy, and where they come from and how they’ve been produced.”
The new standards draw parallels to the diamond industry, which in 2003 created a certification process to assure consumers that they were not purchasing rocks that were financing rebel movements seeking to undermine legitimate governments.