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World Gold Council introduces conflict-free mining standard

The link between gold and armed conflict could be reduced by a recently introduced industry initiative aimed at increasing transparency.

Industry body the World Gold Council has developed the conflict-free gold standard, aimed at encouraging responsible mining practices.

The standard, published in October 2012, aims to improve industry practice and is open to any party with a link to the extraction or supply of the precious metal.

The standard looks at five different criteria, including whether the area a company works in is affected by conflict, what processes are in place to keep gold from the hands of armed groups, and what is carried out to check gold from external sources has no link to conflict.

There are hopes it will improve confidence and integrity in the industry. A World Gold Council release reads: “Gold produced in conformance with the conflict-free gold standard will provide confidence that it has been extracted in a manner that does not cause, support or benefit unlawful armed conflict.”

Terry Heymann, director of gold for development at the World Gold Council, argues that this could help in war-torn nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that it would not automatically solve conflicts.

“There have been concerns around the role miners play in financing kidnapping, conflict and various forms of financing,” he says. “It’s not as if the situation will be resolved if this one element is removed.”