Precious metal mining remains one of the dirtiest industries in the world, from the unregulated Garimpos in the Amazon to the largest mechanized mines in Indonesia. The production of one simple gold ring generates an average of 20 tons of mine waste. This waste is often highly toxic because chemicals such as cyanide and mercury are used to separate the gold ore from the dirt.
Even the smallest amounts of these chemicals can be extremely hazardous. A single drop of cyanide can be fatal to humans, and staggeringly the average mine produces more than 30,000 times this amount every year. Meanwhile, gold mining is the second largest source of mercury pollution after coal burning and poses serious health risks to miners and nearby populations. Exposure to elemental mercury as well as methylmercury, produced as the mercury reacts with organic matter, can cause severe neurological dysfunction, respiratory failure, and death.
This is not just a far-off, foreign problem. Here in the United States, metal mines are the single largest source of toxic pollution, responsible for more than one-quarter of all toxic waste.
On the bright side, we are proud to support several impressive initiatives to develop improved standards in the mining industry.
Fair Trade Certified Gold is here! In March, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) launched the first ever third-party independent certification for gold. ARM and FLO have worked for years to help small mines like Oro Verde and Cooperativa Minera de la Llanada in Colombia establish this ground-breaking model. Their efforts will open up market opportunities for millions of impoverished artisanal small-scale miners and their communities.
The No Dirty Gold campaign, sponsored by Earthworks, has shown great promise in getting industry players on board to confront dirty mining practices. This campaign has signed on a quarter of the U.S. jewelry market to its Golden Rules criteria for more responsible mining and sourcing of metals.
We also offer third-party certified reclaimed and recycled precious metals from Hoover & Strong, which has led the industry in reducing their environmental footprint. All scraps (clean and mixed) are re-melted, fumes are scrubbed free of particulate, wastewater is strictly controlled, treated, and 100% evaporated.
The Clarity Project takes these standards seriously. And to stand by our commitment to the minors who embrace Fair Trade and No Dirty Gold, all metals in our jewelry are Fair Trade certified, artisanally mined, or reclaimed.