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The Artisanal Gold™ Fund is an improvement fund financed through the trade of gold, and other initiatives. The fund is managed by the Artisanal Gold Council. To support the fund, we are developing mercury-free artisanal gold products from new artisanal production. We are also investigating trading gold that entered the global pool from artisanal mining over the last 150 years[i]. Proceeds generated contribute directly to environmental stewardship, poverty alleviation and health improvement programs for artisanal mining communities. Reduction in the use of mercury in artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) is a key part of these programs. This is a priority of the United Nations’ global treaty on mercury – the Minamata Convention. The programs are also designed to help stabilize the relationship between ASGM and governments, industry and society. The fund is dedicated to improving the gold industry by improving the opportunities and conditions of the millions of marginalized poor people involved in it.
Investing in the fund sends a clear message that small scale miners are a legitimate and important source of wealth for the world’s rural poor, and that the ASGM industry can be improved and become sustainable.
The Artisanal Gold™ ETF
One of the initiatives that the AGC is working on the creation of a gold ETF that would be the world’s FIRST physically gold backed SRI. This would generate comparative returns to other investments while improving the conditions of the artisanal gold mining communities.
More information can be found in the presentation given by Dr. Kevin Telmer at the 2013 LBMA/LPPM Precious Metals Conference.
Invest in the Artisanal Gold™ Fund for Social Responsibility
The millions of miners working in poor conditions in the developing world need help. Their activities can result in significant environmental and social impacts, however, the wealth they generate is widely recognized by world bodies, such as the UN and World Bank, to be an important opportunity to escape poverty and develop their communities. Helping miners to derive the greatest benefit from this opportunity, while minimizing the environmental and social consequences, requires innovation, broad collaboration, and access to capital. The Artisanal Gold™ Fund will help this opportunity be realized, and in doing so, help improve the gold sector at large.
There are serious environmental problems associated with ASGM, including deforestation and other habitat destruction, water pollution, and release of toxic chemicals. For example ASGM is the world’s largest user of mercury, a highly toxic metal. Releases of mercury to the environment from ASGM in 2011 are more than 1200 tonnes per year according to www.mercurywatch.org. This mercury travels around the globe through the atmosphere, and contaminates the world’s fisheries, affecting all fish eaters. Investing in this fund ensures reductions in mercury emissions from ASGM, thus reducing global mercury pollution.
Gold represents an excellent method of transferring wealth from rich to poor countries. Small producers often get 70% of the international price – not true for any other product. This wealth can play a strong role in community development with appropriate guidance.
By improving gold mining practices, this fund will improve the reputation of the gold sector at large, and help grow and diversify it.
Creating Sustainable Economic Growth
This fund stimulates sustainability in poor communities around the world and demonstrates practical solutions to issues surrounding ASGM.
Creating shared value
Investing in the Artisanal Gold™ Fund allows companies and individuals the opportunity to build social value into their investment strategy. It supports the ethical evolution of the gold industry.
The Artisanal Gold™ Coin
Since 2011, the AGC has sold the Artisanal Gold™ Coin as an initiative to establish the Artisanal Gold™ fund.
The pure gold coin was minted by the Lasqueti Mint, an artisanal mint on Canada’s west coast with a connection to the Yukon gold rush – Canada’s historical ASM story. The Lasqueti Mint has been striking coins with artisan tools since 1997 and are widely respected by numismatists for their work. This coin is the first ever coin to have script overlaying a cartographic projection of the earth.
The limited edition mintage produced 104 coins. The coins were distributed to purchasers in beautiful wooden display box. Each coin was issued with a certificate explaining the mintage, coin number, the mission of the Artisanal Gold Fund, and was signed by the Executive Director of theArtisanal Gold Council, Dr. Kevin Telmer.
[i] Of the 125,000 to 150,000 tonnes of above ground gold still in existence (Schofield, 2007), a significant portion of it is artisanal in origin. To define the mass of tradable gold available to the Artisanal Gold™, Fund we use the following logic:
Half of all gold was produced since the 1950s, and 80% since 1850 (USGS, 2006). In 2009, 330 metric tonnes of gold was estimated to have been produced by ASGM, which is equal to 13% of the official production of 2500 tonnes (Telmer and Veiga, 2009). However, it is unlikely that ASGM production has been as high as 13% continuously since 1850. It was certainly higher in early years (the Yukon gold rush began in 1898), but significantly lower when large scale industrial mining of gold surged in the 1950 & 60s.
In order to move the development of Artisanal Gold forward, a mass of gold that was produced through artisanal means must be defined. Because an exact determination would be complicated and fraught with debate, and for the purposes of having a standard starting and ending time upon which to base an estimate of the quantity of Artisanal Gold currently existing, and to be conservative (a minimum), the Artisanal Gold Council allocates 5% of gold production from 1850 to the year 2000 to be traded as Artisanal Gold™. The main rationale in choosing the year 1850 is that it encompasses the major gold rushes – California, Australia, British Columbia, the Yukon, and the numerous others of that era. Five percent (5%) of world production from 1850 to 2000 as reported by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is 7000 tonnes (5% of 140,000 tonnes). This 7000 tonnes is therefore the maximum amount of gold that could be traded as Artisanal Gold™ – a cap. Artisanal Gold™ is “old gold” and does not include nor will include any new production of ASGM gold. To monetize the Artisanal Gold™ Fund, the Artisanal Gold Council will trade Artisanal Gold™ physically and by issuing certificates.