World Gold Council Combats "Conflict Gold"

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"The framework aims to ensure conflict-free gold from the mine to the end of refining process."

Kitco, Debbie Carlson

In an effort to limit the amount gold that is used to enable or finance armed conflict, the World Gold Council has unveiled a draft framework of standards that can be used to certify newly mined gold as "conflict-free" on a global basis, the group said Friday.

The council worked with its member companies and leading gold refiners to create the framework to track conflict-free gold from the mine to the end of refining process. The standards also ensure that if gold is mined in a conflict or high-risk zone, the production or transportation does not finance or benefit armed groups.

Concerns have risen over the years, especially as the price of gold has increased, that the metal is being used to finance armed skirmishes, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries. The WGC said the standards address this situation for large-scale producers.

Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill addresses conflict minerals and the provision requires that companies buying these minerals, including gold, write an annual report outlining what firms are doing to make sure their gold is "conflict-free." The WGC has since submitted two consultation documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In its press release, the WGC said the draft standards are being "stress-tested" by gold mining companies and refineries, as part of the development process.

The WGC said it is seeking input on the draft standards from governments, non-governmental organizations, the investment community, artisanal miners, end-users and other participants in the gold supply chain until Sept. 1. In addition, the group said there will be work on issues related to recycled gold, audit and assurance.

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