A Canadian jeweller has completed the first export of responsible and conflict free artisanal gold from Eastern Congo, just one month after a new responsible gold supply chain system was implemented in the region.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) launched the Just Gold Project as a pilot project in 2015, but successfully moved beyond pilot phase into a fully-fledged operation earlier this year.
The jewellery company, Fair Trade Jewellery Co, based in Toronto, Canada, successfully received an export of 238 grams in three gold doré bars. The move represents the very first time any consumer goods will be made out of conflict-free artisanal gold from Congo that is fully traced from mine, throughout the supply chain, through to consumer.
Upon receiving the gold, the Toronto team refined, alloyed and designed four responsibly-mined and conflict-free artisanal 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 ensuring 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 community development, and as a company—deepen our impact on many stakeholders," added Gambhir.
The exporting of this gold was not without challenge. These included high export taxes, transportation restrictions, and burdensome paperwork. All of these challenges faced will be used by Partnership Africa Canada to call on the Congolese government to create more favourable conditions for legal trade and responsible investment.
The move is a major turning point in the future of conflict-free artisanal gold exporting.
"This export from Bunia, DRC to Toronto 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 industry. We have proven otherwise," said Lebert.