18 maart 2006
Dutch jewels made of 'green gold' from Colombia
Large-scale gold mining is a messy business, destroying ecosystems, leaving behind poisoned pools, large craters, and masses of uprooted trees. Wherever substantial quantities of gold are digged for, people and animals are chased from their territories, often with disastrous social and ecological consequences.
Stichting Milieukeur (SMK) is developing requirements for sustainable golden jewellery. It is up to an independent certification organisation to check whether gold mines live up to standards of sustainability, like abstaining from mercury, restoring the ecology and giving workers a decent pay.
Near the Pacific Coast in Colombia, in the tropical rainforests of Chocó, some small-scale gold mines have passed the test. The Corporación Oro Verde runs the mining in close participation with the local population and the authorities. Here we see development of the whole region instead of plundering of nature and the abuse of workers. After visiting the region, the independent inspector Gommert Mes concluded that the mining is not only performed in an environmentally sustainable way, but is also beneficial to the population. "Oro Verde sees mining as an integral part of the community development," he commented. Mining families get a decent income, and programmes are set up to build the capacity of local leaders.
Naturally, Ineke Vlot of SMK is glad that a reliable source of green gold has been detected: "At least we now have a small-scale initiative with which we can try to influence the Dutch market. The next step is towards improving large-scale gold mining. And of course convincing the jewellery branch to use certified gold." Several Dutch organisations are involved in the promotion and marketing of the 'green' jewellery that will soon be produced. The quantity of gold mined by Oro Verde is sufficient for the Dutch jewel manufacturer to start his new line.
P+ Webtip: Green Gold