The Quest for Clean Gold: Is There Such a Thing as Ethical, Conflict-Free Gold?

Gold minePeople search for clean, conflict-free gold for many different reasons. Clean gold basically refers to gold mined and processed using ethical and environment-friendly means from non-conflict areas. Searching for clean gold is a lot more complicated than it seems. In most cases, gold or some other rare mineral resource is one of the reasons there is conflict in the first place.

The intention of safeguarding or obtaining highly valuable assets, such as oil, gemstones, timber, and minerals, tends to fuel or even ignite conflict and war. In Africa, gold was mined in massive amounts in war zones and traded internationally to finance military operations.

But it is not only in the context of funding a war when gold becomes unethical. Other issues that tarnish gold are human trafficking, child labour and other human rights violations and how the trade impacts the local community and the environment. Other than a militia or civil war, conflicts also play out in the form of protests that more often than not lead to violence.

The demand for clean gold usually comes from individual consumers who are concerned about human rights and the environment. The search is often arduous, so much so that you can’t always expect the bullion trader or retailer to be honest about their claims. But it is certainly possible to find a legitimate source.

The most popular sources of conflict-free gold today are China, the United States, and Australia. However, these countries have a history of disagreements over land use in indigenous areas. Still, with buying from these countries, there’s a higher chance the producer conforms to the Conflict-Free Gold Standard.

In developed nations, gold mining takes a more modern form, and has no direct or indirect links to poverty and public health issues, due to advanced traceability and diligence systems. Atkinsonsbullion.com notes that, ideally, gold is a clean resource, as it is resistant to corrosion, oxidisation, and most chemical reactions. If handled well, it will not contaminate the environment. It also contains certain compounds that are useful in creating anti-inflammatories.

Other than its importance in electricity, materials production, and medicine, gold played a role in many cultures. Gold symbolises a person’s wealth and status in society, and power of mythological proportions.

Like all minerals and valuable natural resources, gold may either be clean or tarnished. But in the context of creating products that yield positive outcomes, such as medical innovations, and until there are conflict-free standards and sources, then we can say that there is such a thing as ethical gold.