EARTHWORKS

Report slams RJC for irresponsible practices

Mining People and the Environment

May 22, 2013
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The report said that the Responsible Jewellery Council's Code permits mining companies to operate in conflict zones, fails to protect workers’ rights and allows toxic waste to be leached into neighbouring lakes, rivers and seas.

Entitled More Shine Than Substance: How RJC certification fails to create responsible jewellery, the report criticises the RJC, claiming that numerous loopholes exist in relation to the auditing and accountability of its membership and that its standards violate widely accepted social and environmental principles.

"RJC can’t polish the image of gold and diamonds while keeping worker and community representatives off the table," said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of trade union federation IndustriALL, which contributed to the report.

"Having the industry set its own standards and certify compliance is rather like having the fox guard the henhouse. How can the public have faith in such a process?"

Other groups that contributed to the report included the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and United Steelworkers, as well as environmental advocacy groups, Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada.

"If RJC is going to let its member companies claim 'responsible business practices' for the corporation as a whole then all their operations should adhere to RJC standards," said Ken Neumann, national director of the United Steelworkers in Canada.

"Companies like Rio Tinto can’t be RJC-certified as a whole, while remaining a principal investor in mines like Grasberg in Indonesia that don’t meet RJC standards," he added.

"Communities living near mines are fighting to protect their health, livelihoods, social and cultural values that are threatened by mining," commented Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

"Their efforts are undermined by the RJC system that certifies the continuation of the status quo," she added. "The RJC system does not drive the fundamental change that is needed."

The report is published today ahead of the RJC's annual meeting, which is taking place in Milan on May 23.

Tagged with: responsible jewellery council, mining, gold, corporate accountability

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