The Just Gold project aims to develop an independent, equitable and sustainable system that brings legal, conflict-free and traceable gold from artisanal mine sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo to international markets.
In the Great Lakes region of Africa, and Democratic Republic of Congo in particular, the artisanal mining sector remains largely informal and is prone to widespread corruption and violence. While great strides have been made to trace conflict-prone minerals, there continues to be no tracking or monitoring of gold flows. This makes artisanal gold an ideal target for financing armed groups, resulting in the exploitation of mining communities and a loss of revenue for the government when gold is smuggled out of the country.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) has developed the Just Gold project to test models of traceability and due diligence implementation, in an effort to formalize the artisanal gold mining sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Just Gold project applies the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, and the regional certification standards of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
The Just Gold project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by providing technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and offered Just Gold project equipment, in return for which any gold produced must be tracked and sold through legal channels.
In the current model being tested, the Just Gold Model Trading House (Maison d'achat modèle) acts as the legal conduit for Congolese artisanally produced gold by purchasing it at competitive prices, packaging it, and selling gold to a partnered legal exporter (comptoir).
The project is designed to be financially sustainable, with the margin from gold sales paying for operating costs, traceability, and the ongoing maintenance of project equipment. A percentage is also invested into a locally managed community development fund, with a goal to promote local natural resource governance and increase benefits from resources to all members of the community.
The Just Gold project is at the advanced pilot stage, with two sites in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In Ituri, at Some (Mambasa Territory)—the pilot is fully operational from mine site to exporter. 300 miners are registered in the project. In South Kivu, at Butuzi (Walungu Territory)— groundwork is being set with initial technical assistance assessments, alongside comprehensive community consultations in 2016.