Concerned consumers, organisations, and governments around the world continue to shine a light on conflict minerals. These tainted commodities are traded by private armed groups for monetary gain to finance civil conflicts and violence which contribute to the violation of human rights. Thus, the quest for ‘responsible’ and ethically sourced minerals is becoming more and more prevalent.
Conflict minerals, which can include gold ore, are smuggled out of countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and parts of Afghanistan, Columbia, and Zimbabwe, and shipped to smelters around the world for refinement. Once processed, it is near impossible to trace their origin. These minerals then enter global supply chains and end up being used in many applications, including popular consumer products such as mobile phones, televisions, laptops, and jewellery.
As companies become increasingly aware of the adverse effects of buying conflict minerals they are endeavouring to examine and investigate their supply chains, conducting due diligence in an effort to ensure they source their minerals responsibly, thus preventing conflict minerals from entering global markets.
The Perth Mint is one such company that has implemented a Conflict Metals and Supply Chain Policy.
Operating one of the largest gold refining operations in the world, The Perth Mint is committed to boycotting conflict gold and other minerals, with its supply chain due diligence systems and procedures compliant with the ‘responsible’ gold guidelines presented by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In 2012, The Perth Mint also became one of the world’s first three gold refiners to be certified under the internationally recognised Conflict-Free Smelter Program (CFSP) developed by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and Global Sustainability Initiative (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative. The voluntary program provides credible third-party valuation of a smelter’s procurement activities to verify that the refiner can be deemed conflict-free.
In addition to refining the majority of Australia’s newly mined gold, The Perth Mint also processes gold doré from surrounding countries, and jewellery scrap from Australia and Asia, and thus acknowledges it is extremely difficult to determine the origins of all recycled, second-hand or scrap gold.
“We are aware that gold mined in conflict countries has the potential to indirectly make its way to our refinery, so we are vigilant in our investigations into the credibility of our sources,” said Perth Mint Chief Operating Officer, David Woodford.
A positive assessment under the Conflict-Free Smelter Program’s authentication protocols gives Perth Mint customers assurance that the gold which passes through its refining facility is obtained from trustworthy sources.
Operating a fully integrated precious metals business, the refining of gold is the initial stage in the production of The Perth Mint’s extensive range of bullion, commemorative and industrial products. With its activities and the quality of its products and services guaranteed by the Government of Western Australia, its ban of conflict metals is vital to its success.
“With increasing institutional and private ownership of gold in the form of bullion bars and coins, the issue of conflict minerals is paramount for our investors, so we want to be sure we are providing them with socially responsible products,” he continued.
Today, there are now 80 conflict-free gold refiners across the world, which are recognised by the CFSP.