Ploumen concludes voluntary agreement on responsible gold

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, has reached a deal with the Dutch gold industry on using ‘responsible gold’ across the value chain. From extraction through to recycling, the industry aims to show that it is ensuring greater respect for people and planet. To this end the parties today signed the Agreement on International Responsible Business Conduct in the Gold Industry.

‘Conditions in gold mines in developing countries are often atrocious,’ Ms Ploumen explained. ‘So today is an important day. Dealers, jewellers, goldsmiths and electronics firms are all participating in this agreement. This will provide more insight into whether and to what extent poor working conditions can be linked to the Dutch gold sector. And, crucially, what we can do to change things. There are already companies doing their utmost to buy gold from responsible sources. But everyone needs to commit to this approach. This voluntary agreement will help achieve that, both in the Netherlands and beyond. So I’m calling on all companies to sign up.’

The agreement is supported by jewellery and electronics manufacturers, recycling firms, civil society organisations and the government. An initial project combating child labour has already been launched in Uganda. Before the year is out, Dutch jewellers and electronics retailers will be offering consumers better information about the origins of the gold they buy.

The agreement may be voluntary, but that doesn’t mean it carries no obligations. The signatories must report annually on their results to a monitoring committee and a steering committee, via an independent secretariat run by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER). Companies that do not meet their commitments will be held to account by the other parties, and may ultimately be expelled from the agreement.

The voluntary agreement on responsible gold is the fifth agreement on international corporate social responsibility to be signed in the Netherlands. Previous agreements concerned the garments and textiles, banking, forestry and vegetable protein sectors. They were concluded following the SER’s advisory report in 2014 about agreements on international responsible business conduct.

For more information please visit the website 'Agreements on International Responsible Business Conduct'.