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Solidaridad, which founded the first fair-trade label for coffee in 1988, has been working with miners, traders, jewelers, and fair-trade organizations to develop a framework for responsible gold mining. Since 2006, the organization has been training miners in Latin America to improve their environmental and social practices and gain access to the European market. It has also initiated support programs for miners in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, where working conditions are even more grim.

Solidaridad wants to make fair-trade gold the standard, not the exception.

“The [FT&FM]label is an important step towards making the whole sector sustainable,” says Nico Roozen, Solidaridad’s director, says in a statement. “Toxic mercury is widely used in small-scale gold mining and workers are working in unsafe mine shafts, receive too low a price for their gold, and the environment is affected unnecessarily.”

But Solidaridad has its sights on large-scale gold mining, as well. Together with the Responsible Jewellery Council, the group wants to make fair-trade gold the standard, not the exception.

“We are absolutely on the right track with the FT&FM label,” Roozen adds, “but worldwide there are still too many cases of poor working conditions.”

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