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Swiss gold refinery turns back on artisanal miners

Metalor is one of the world’s biggest gold refineries.

Swiss gold refinery Metalor Technologies has announced it will no longer deal with artisanal mining operations. The company cites the increasing cost of ensuring that gold is being produced by small mines in compliance with human rights and environmental standards.

Metalorexternal link has come under repeated fire for doing business with gold mines in South America that care neither for their workers or surrounding habitat. Some of gold being refined has also been linked by NGOs to money laundering.

The company has refuted many of the charges being levelled at them by human rights groups. But it had nevertheless already ceased doing business with artisanal mines in Peru last yearexternal link whilst declaring self-regulated measures to combat abuses in the gold trade. Monday’s announcement also signals the end to its artisanal activities in Colombia.

Pressure groups has complained that Metalor’s due diligence was failing to spot back doors through which “dirty gold” was allegedly reaching the refinery.

“The increasing complexity of the supply chain in this sector makes it increasingly difficult for Metalor to continue its commercial relations with artisanal mining operations,” said Metalor CEO, Antoine de Montmollin, in a statement.

“Metalor regrets this well-considered decision, but we will not compromise on defending a more sustainable value chain in the gold sector.”

Hosting four of the world’s major refineries, Switzerland has virtually cornered the market in gold processing. In 2017, the country imported 2,404 tonnes of gold (worth a total of CHF69.6 billion or $69.7 billion) while 1,684 tonnes were exported (CHF66.6 billion).

Last year, the government issued a report of the gold sectorexternal link and said it was working with the industry to improve “sustainability standards”.

Full story here
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