Jewelry Companies Targeted in New Conflict Gold Campaign

Going for Gold | Enough Project

As millions of dollars were spent on Black Friday last month by eager shoppers looking for a deal, the Enough Project launched a campaign to urge consumers to look beyond cost when considering their holiday purchases.

Since Dodd-Frank Section 1502 was passed, thousands of companies have put forth significant effort to undertake supply chain due diligence and commit to conflict-free sourcing of 3T (tin, tungsten and tantalum) minerals in their products. But, despite these efforts, gold remains the one conflict mineral (the “G” in 3TG) that continues to fuel armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Great Lakes Region (GLR) unabatedly.

At the onset of holiday shopping, the Enough Project has issued a new report, Going for Gold, highlighting the continued problem of conflict gold from the region and analyzing the efforts of major jewelry companies to source their gold responsibly.

According to Enough’s research, more than two-thirds of 3T mines in eastern Congo have become conflict-free due to efforts inspired by the 1502 legislation. On the other hand, gold continues to provide a major “financial lifeline” for armed actors. According to the report, in the DRC, an unbelievable 98% of artisanally-mined gold is smuggled out of the country. Using these illicit channels, armed groups sell gold into the global supply chain, and that conflict gold eventually ends up in various mainstream consumer products.

Since the jewelry industry is the main overall end user of gold, Enough surveyed the 14 largest North American jewelry retailers to assess their efforts to counter the use of conflict gold. Results concluded that Tiffany & Co. and Signet Jewelers came out as the industry leaders in addressing the use of conflict gold. The companies were applauded for “taking proactive steps to set up supply chain controls, contributing to solutions on the ground in Congo, and supporting the communities affected by mining and violence in Congo.”

Enough provides recommendations for other jewelry companies, such as instituting a company policy committing to conflict-free gold sourcing practices, and engaging suppliers on strategies to source conflict-free gold from Congo.

RSN urges consumers and investors to use this new information on the jewelry industry’s varying commitments to conflict-free gold sourcing in future purchasing and investment decisions. Consumers and investors have powerful leverage to incentivize companies to sourcing conflict-free from the DRC, and this holiday season is the perfect time to start exerting it.

RSN Staff