photo provided by Trout Unlimited shows sockeye salmon in a river in the Bristol Bay, Alaska watershed.
EPA Considers blocking massive gold mine proposed for Alaska, via The Washington Post
This is great news for the Bristol Bay and its community. The Pebble Mine would cause irreversible damage to the environment and fishing communities of Bristol Bay.
“Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement.
“It’s why EPA is taking this step forward in our effort to ensure protection for the world’s most productive salmon fishery from the risks it faces from what could be one of the largest open pit mines on earth. This process is not something the agency does very often, but Bristol Bay is an extraordinary and unique resource.”
While the announcement does not mean the Obama administration has made a final decision to prohibit Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., a Canadian-based firm, from starting construction on the Pebble Mine project, it will delay it for months and make it much harder for the controversial project to move ahead at all.
Climate Signals, Growing Louder, via The New York Times.
A grim report on climate change is out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggesting that the effects of climate change are already happening and that the world is ill-prepared for its effects.
The report’s conclusions mirrored those of a much shorter but no less disturbing report issued two weeks ago by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society. Like the panel, the association declared that the world is already feeling the effects of global warming, that the ultimate consequences could be catastrophic, and that the window for effective action is swiftly closing.
The intergovernmental panel’s report (a companion report later this month will discuss what governments should do) could carry considerable weight with delegates to next year’s climate change summit meeting in Paris, at which the members of the United Nations will again try, after years of futility, to fashion a new global climate treaty. And together, the two reports could build public support for President Obama’s efforts to use his executive authority to limit greenhouse gases, most recently with a plan issued on Friday to reduce methane emissions from landfills, agricultural operations and oil and gas production and distribution.
The report can be read here.
Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) speaks about the DDI and its relationship to the Kimberely Process in an interview with Ethical Metalsmiths. Excerpt below:
Photo Credit: DDI - Registration of artisanal miners in the province of Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
EM: There is a relationship between DDI and the Kimberley Process. Can you explain the relationship and help our readers understand the difference in the regulatory aims of the Kimberley Process and the development goals of DDI?
DDI was created to complement the Kimberley Process, an international conflict prevention mechanism. We address the issues that are not within the Kimberley Process mandate. There are socio-economic issues affecting artisanal miners who mine diamonds in alluvial fields, where conflict diamonds started. We believe that conflict prevention requires resolution of these development issues, issues that will not disappear on their own without intervention.
DDI represents the first attempt to take a holistic approach to the challenges of artisanal alluvial diamond production, working with governments, miners, civil society and industry to solve problems that will not disappear on their own and need sustained support. Through education and projects working directly with artisanal miners, DDI seeks to promote better understanding and concrete solutions for issues relating to the artisanal diamond-mining sector.
The Kimberley Process is most challenged in the alluvial diamond areas, where internal controls required by the certification scheme are weak or non-existent. DDI is working with governments to increase internal controls through projects, and enhance the implementation of the KP through policies and project. After a number of years, the KP now recognizes the importance of development and its effectiveness.
Read the rest of the interview here.
Greenland's ruby deposits
Greg Velario writes on his blog about Greenland’s ruby deposits and the disruption of its natives’ way of living.
“As this photo demonstrates Greenland is rich in Ruby yet through institutional bureaucracy, corporate collusion and ethnic stereotyping the Bureau for Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) have prevented local people from creating a livelihood for themselves [...]
Until the documentation of valuable gem deposits in Greenland, Inuits were allowed to gather, polish and sell gem material. Once exceptionally valuable ruby was documented by True North Gems, the BMP issued completely new mining laws and moved to exclude local people from the ruby deposits.
Indigenous Greenlanders had always been permitted to hunt, mine and fish according to traditional methods and they have a unique historical and traditional relationship with the ‘Inik Amak‘ meaning the ‘eternal fire’ or ‘the flame that never goes out’ that is a beautiful way to describe the ruby. However when the local people became empowered and broke out of the Danish Colonial stereo type of using low grade ruby for native ethnic carvings and wanted to cut and polish stones of gem quality value and sell to the world market, the ethnic Danish administration (BMP) broke their own mining laws (section 32 of the previous mineral code) to stop Greenlanders from earning a living.
There is a serious moral disconnect in the current situation in Greenland. The fact that bureaucrats can dictate, based on European colonial legislation whether a local person can own a ruby picked up from the ground seems grounded in ignorance at best and at worst a cynical piece of racial prejudice. Even the new pro Inuit government seems to have been deceived by the so-called small-scale mining gemstone experts who by their own confession; ‘Have no knowledge of artisanal and small-scale mining in the gemstone sector‘ (Jorn Skov Nielsen Director of BMP). Last month the Greenland Ombudsman judged that the BMP had acted outside of their powers in ordering the arrest and the confiscation of ruby gathered by local small-scale miners.”
Read more here.
We now have fair-trade, fair-mined gold in stock. Coming in 2014!
New research shows the possibilites of cornstarch to to replace cyanide in gold extraction. The use of cornstarch could greatly improve the environmental and health impacts of gold mining and scrap separation. Thanks to Toby Pomeroy for sharing!
This article will attempt to keep our readers up to date on the complicated and nuanced path towards Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold. Fairtrade standards and certification have the power to transform the gold mining industry, and progress continues every day. We will do our best to update this article as the Fairtrade gold story unravels.
“Globally, over 100 million people depend on Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) for survival. The 15 million ASM miners work in harsh and dangerous conditions to produce just 10-15 percent of global gold supplies, but they make up 90 percent of the global work force in gold extraction. These miners and their families are caught in a vicious circle of exploitation [and] illegality, and many lack the skills and resources to move forward. However, if managed responsibly, ASM mining can provide a great opportunity for poverty reduction and sustainable development for millions of people.” 
Currently at Bario-Neal we use recycled metals for our jewelry. The truth is, regardless of how much recycled metal jewelers use, precious metals will still continue to be mined. Bario-Neal is looking to expand our commitment to ethical sourcing and more directly support responsible ASM mining. Fairtrade and Fairmined (FT/FM) gold has only recently become available to the US market and we hope to soon be sourcing it for a selection of our pieces.
A Groundbreaking Initiative
Fairtrade and Fairmined gold certification is the result of a unique partnership between the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) in an effort to bring to market gold that has been responsibly mined and for which miners have received a Fairtrade minimum price and premium. This groundbreaking initiative has been almost a decade in the making and is based upon ARM’s “Standard Zero” –a set of principles gleaned from FLO’s standards for small agricultural producers but adapted to address artisanal and small-scale mining. The Fairtrade and Fairmined standards have been pilot-tested at five mines with nine mining organizations in Bolivia, Colombia, Equador, and Peru that represent 2,500 miners and their families. The application process for FT/FM certification is open to all ASM organizations in Latin America (the region has been ideal for piloting FT/FM certification due to the pre-existing ASM organization and relatively stable local governments) and work is already underway to expand the initiative to Africa and Asia.
To acquire Fairtrade and Fairmined certification, artisanal mining organizations must fulfill a set of stringent standards for responsible mining. If certified, they are guaranteed a Fairtrade premium equivalent to 10% of the internationally agreed upon price of gold, which is then reinvested democratically into the mining community. Mining organizations that produce their gold without the use of mercury or cyanide can earn an additional ecological premium of 5% (to recognize the additional costs involved in using cleaner technology}. The Fairtrade Fairmined initiative enables ASM workers to ensure their own livelihood as well as assure consumers that the gold they are purchasing is ethically sourced.
When purchasing certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold, we can be sure that the miners:
- Receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price set at 95% of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) fixing
- Receive a Fairtrade premium payment (calculated at 10% of the LBMA fixing), which gets democratically reinvested in community projects and improving miners´ operations
- Receive an even higher premium (15%) for Ecological Gold (extracted without the use of chemicals)
- Have developed democratic and accountable organizations and have formalized all of their operations
- Are using safe working practices including the management of toxic chemicals, such as mercury and cyanide, used in the gold recovery process
- Are respectful with their environment
- Recognize the rights of women miners
- Do not allow child labor in their operations (no one under 15 years old may be contracted to work in the mining organization and those under 18 must not work in potentially hazardous or dangerous conditions)
(Read More »)
This is a great interview from Fair Jewelry Action with Mike Angenent of Open Source Minerals and Jeweltree. We’re looking forward to working with stones from the Diamond Development Initiative and DC Diamascorp.
Those wishing to have a diamond which aligns with the values associated with engagement and marriage often choose Canadian diamonds, despite their impact on the ecology, and the fact that Africa needs the diamond trade for their economic development. Though there are a few notable exceptions, when large scale diamond mining companies operate in Africa, most of the economic benefit derived from the mine leaves the country.
A few organizations have been attempting to work with small scale mining communities in order to produce a principles and standards within a chain of custody for a fair trade diamond. Mike Angenent has been at the forefront, and has recently announced that a fair trade diamond will be coming to market. Here is what he has to say about the project.
Can we start with where are these diamonds coming from?
For starters, South Africa and Sierra Leonne.
What key agencies are you working with to bring this diamond to market?
There are a few projects in the pipeline. One with DC Diamascorp concerning small scale and artisanal mining in South Africa and a project with Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) concerning artisanal mining in Sierra Leon.
(Read More »)
At Bario-Neal, we have a high standard for ethically sourced materials. One of the more traceable ethically sourced materials that we work with is our rough diamonds. Many of the human rights abuse issues associated with the diamond industry happen in the cutting and polishing process. With rough diamonds, there is no cutting and polishing, virtually eliminating these possibilities. You can read more about our ethically sourced rough diamonds in Alyssa’s interview with Kerin, here.
Working with rough diamonds in fine jewelry is relatively new. Most of the information and research on diamonds is specific to cut and graded diamonds. Aside from that, there is very little information on the internet about rough diamonds and how they are used in jewelry. Because of this, it is easy to misunderstand or under-appreciate rough diamonds.
Rough diamonds come in a vast variety of sizes, shapes and colors and each of these characteristics contributes to a stone’s rarity and thus its cost. Unlike cut diamonds, there is no certification system available for rough diamonds and so the dealer inspects and determines the color and clarity of each diamond. Once diamonds are cut, inclusions are a lot easier to hide because of the facets of the stone. In their rough state, inclusions are easy to detect to the naked eye. This is not necessarily a bad quality (as it would be for a cut diamond), but rather contributes to the natural beauty and brilliance of the stone.
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Working with recycled precious metals is an important part of our process at Bario-Neal. We focus on sourcing the most environmentally and socially responsible metals and stones possible. One hundred percent recycled precious metals are the best option currently available, as they don’t require additional mining.
Our recycled silver, gold, palladium, and platinum come from two primary sources: Abington Reldan Metals, a refinery about 40 minutes from our Philadelphia shop, and Hoover and Strong, a refinery in Richmond, Virginia. These refineries take in scraps of precious metals, dust and filings from jewelers’ workshops, old or unwanted jewelry, silverware, silver from photo processing, as well as metals from electronic devices. The refineries collect, sort, melt, and refine these materials into forms that jewelers like Bario-Neal can use again, such as casting grain, sheet metal, and wire.
Our refineries aren’t only committed to producing 100% recycled metals, they are also invested in the environmental and health impacts of their facilities. We’ve visited both refineries, and we’re impressed with their advances in reducing waste and energy use. Hoover and Strong has been in business since 1912, and their recycled metals are third-party certified to ensure the recycled content. They maintain four large fume scrubbers to reduce emissions that cause air pollution. Hoover and Strong also uses the Miller Process (http://bario-neal.com/bn/blog/?p=12) to refine gold, which reduces acid use by 85%. Abington Reldan Metals is a LEED Silver certified facility, and they’ve been operating for over 30 years. They also use waste heat from the refining process to heat the manufacturing plant and for domestic hot water, as well as for the sludge drying and water evaporation process. This heat recovery has reduced their energy consumption by about 20-25%. Both facilities maintain a closed loop for water, meaning there is zero discharge and all the waste-water is treated and re-used in the refinery.
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There has been a lot of talk about a new gemstone around the Bario-Neal shop recently–new for us, and still fairly new in the jewelry industry too. Zultanite, as it’s called, is very rare. It exists in its pure, gemstone quality form in only one very small section of a vein of bauxite that runs all the way from Greece, through Turkey, and to India. That section is deep in the mountainous Anatolia region of Turkey in a province called Mugla. Unlike many gems, Zultanite is a completely natural, untreated stone. It has a neutral green color, subtly changes hues under different lighting sources, compliments skin tones, and sometimes exhibits cat’s eye properties. There are no chemicals or treatments used to enhance the gemstone.
I had never heard of Zultanite before a couple of weeks ago, when we received a package containing a palmful of these green-toned sparkling gems. They’d made the long trip from eastern Turkey, all the way to our little Philadelphia shop on the corner of 6th and Bainbridge. We are just starting up a relationship with the company that mines and distributes them, and are currently working on a custom Asymmetrical Avens Ring that features Zultanite as the center stone.
A bit of background: Zultanite’s mineral name is diaspore, and it is found in less pure forms in the emery deposits of the Ural Mountains; in Chester, Massachusetts; and in kaolin deposits in Schemnitz, Hungary. The first gem-quality crystals were discovered in the 1970′s in the very place where they are mined today, but were not mined commercially until the Milenyum Mining Company obtained mining rights from the Turkish government in 2006. Zultanite first received attention when gemologist Richard T. Liddicoat was taken with a 26.04 carat apex fan shaped Zultanite at the 1999 Tucson Gem Show.
Before we felt comfortable using and promoting the stone, we had to ask Zultanite (the company takes its name from the gem) a bunch of questions regarding its origins, especially the environmental and working conditions at the mine. Here is some information we’ve gathered so far:
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