NEW YORK: When the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize proudly receive their gold medal at an award ceremony on Thursday, a group of Colombian miners will also take pride in the event with the presentation of first Nobel medal made from ethical gold.A team of miners from the Colombian town of Íquira in the nation’s southwest province of Huila have supplied the gold for the prestigious award from a mine certified as ethical.
The medal was the result of the Norwegian Mint, which produces the medallion, joining forces with Colombia-based nonprofit the Alliance for Responsible Mining to highlight the problems faced by small-scale miners in poor parts of the world.“We feel very proud to know the Nobel Prize has been made with material that comes from here, from our region, and it’s a very ethical and just material,” Jose Ignacio Perez, a miner at the Íquira Cooperative, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.The medallion will be presented in Oslo to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, the mediators credited with saving a country on the brink of civil war in the wake of the Arab Spring .
The 150 grams of 18-carat gold in the 63-millimeter medal comes from the Iquira Cooperative which was awarded its Fairmined certification for meeting strict requirements on responsible practices, environmental protection and social development.The Fairmined certification aims at reducing the harmful impact of illegal mining in mineral-rich developing countries.
The production of gold has been linked to labor abuses, including forced and child labor, as well as forced displacement and environmental degradation, according to US-based labor rights group Verité.Gold mining is a crucial source of income for many communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia and about 90 per cent of the world’s gold miners work in artisanal and small-scale mines, often facing difficult conditions.
The awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize made from ethical gold could prove a watershed moment for the ethical gold cause, said Jeff Trexler, associate director of Fordham University’s Fashion Law Institute in New York City.