Alliance For Responsible Mining (ARM) And Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC) Sign An MOU: WHAT’S NEXT?
Editorial Comment by Marc Choyt, FJA USA
Large scale mining corporations and small scale miners have historically clashed. Now, we learn from a press release that the RJC and ARM have signed an MOU to work collaboratively on Standards, Industry Outreach, and in Support of Artisan Mining.
This is excellent news and has the potential to be a watershed event for the jewelry sector. Given the current global zeitgeist, we do need to find the “radical center” and work together for new solutions for communities and the environment. However, we will not know until sometime in the future what this MOU means in practice.
ARM, since its inception, has been a champion of small scale miners. Its remarkable, most recent accomplishment was partnering with the Fair Labeling Organization (FLO) to pioneer Fairtrade and Fairmined gold to market this past February.
Yet, while ARM/FLO work on an economic model as a development initiative for community mining, the leading companies within the RJC are international corporations focused on driving profits to their shareholders. To say the least, these divergent views have been difficult to harmonize in the past.
The benefits to each of these organizations is clear. ARM’s alliance with RJC has the potential to bring its exceptional work with the small scale mining sector more into the mainstream jewelry sector. It might ease its way into larger markets. The MOU could also lead to greater funding support for their capacity building projects in small scale mining communities. The RJC gets a huge amount of credibility by stating that they are working with ARM. Ninety-five percent of those employed by mining are small scale miners. The views of these people up until now have not been represented in the RJC.
The question is, will ARM have any power to bring legitimacy to the most troubling inconsistencies of the RJC? For example, RJC has members that are among companies in the world with the worst records of environmental and human rights abuses.
Given inconsistencies such as this, I have not seen RJC as anything more than an elaborate marketing effort (and not for profit quasi-cartel) created to legitimize the current supply chain practices of their larger corporate members.
Only time will tell whether this MOU is a turning point, or if ARM will sell out, squeaking about like a mouse at the RJC table of giant tigers, waiting for some crumb$ to fall on the floor.
The radical center is the best place. We need to find ways of collaborating. Yet the credibility of both organizations is on the line. Let’s hope this MOU heralds a new stage in large and small; finding a way to work together to solve issues and policies which have in the past been polarizing and destructive to people and the environment.
Marc Choyt is founding Director of Fair Jewelry Action, USA. His company, Reflective Jewelry, creates ethical, handmade designer jewelry.
FJA is a forum open to a diversity of opinions in support of its mission. Any editorial expressed in this article represents the opinion of the author, and not necessarily the views of Fair Jewelry Action members.