Partnership Africa Canada and Fair Trade Jewellery Co. today an- nounce the first export of conflict- free and traceable artisanal gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Canada. The milestone comes a month after Partnership Africa Canada announced the Just Gold project had implemented a system to trace legal and conflict-free artisanal gold in DRC, with a proven chain of custody from mine site to ex- porter.
Fair Trade Jewellery Co., a Toronto- based pioneer in ethical sourcing, sus- tainability and retail, imported 238 grams in three gold doré bars to Can- ada. Within days, the Toronto team re- fined, alloyed and designed four re- sponsibly-mined and conflict-free ar- tisanal gold rings.
Each ring has been engraved with a lot number, which traces it to a specific mine site in the DRC’s Ituri Province, where the gold originated.
“Sourcing from Congo was a new and exceptionally ambitious process, but one to which our organization is committed to and capable of achieving thanks to partners on the ground, like Partnership Africa Canada,” said Robin
Gambhir, Fair Trade Jewellery Co. co- founder. “After more than a decade of ensur- ing that our materials are responsibly- sourced, we’re delighted to add Just Gold to the gold options we currently
offer our clients.
Ensuring we source fully traceable materials directly from communities is a way to foster commu- nity development, and as a company— deepen our impact on many stakehold- ers,” added Gambhir. Partnership Africa Canada began the Just Gold project as a pilot in 2015 in Ituri Province. The project creates incentives for artisanal gold min- ers to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually respon- sible consumers—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 exploi- tation techniques and are offered Just Gold project equipment. In return, gold they produce must be tracked and sold through legal channels. Today, the project has over 600 min- ers registered across six sites. As the project moves out of its pilot phase with a proven chain of custody from mine site to the exporter in DRC, Fair Trade Jewellery Co.’s move to im- port the gold is an important next step.
The jeweller also collaborates with its sister company, Toronto-based software startup Consensas, to trace the gold from export to consumer. “This export from Bunia, DRC to To- ronto proved that it is possible to bring Canadian and international consumers traced conflict-free Congolese artisanal gold.
What is particularly exciting is that we have shown that every gram of gold can be accompanied by reliable quantitative and qualitative data about its provenance and the actors involved in its extraction, production and trade,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director. “Saying that it is impossible to carry out due diligence on gold supply chains is no longer a valid argument for indus- try.
We have proven otherwise,” said Lebert. Challenges faced during this export included high export taxes, transpor- tation restrictions, and burdensome paperwork, will be used by Partnership Africa Canada to call on the Congolese government to create more favourable conditions for legal trade and respon- sible investment.
Funding for the Just Gold project is provided to Partnership Africa Canada by Global Affairs Canada, with addi- tional funding by USAID through the Capacity Building for Responsible Min- erals Trade (CBRMT) project and Inter- national Organization for Migration.