NEW YORK: Just in time for Valentine's Day, two activist groups last week launched a consumer campaign against the gold-mining industry. The effort is intended to change the way gold is mined, bought, and sold.
The campaign called for activists representing human-rights group Oxfam America and environmental organization Earthworks to hand out a Valentine's Day card ("Don't tarnish your love with dirty gold") in front of jewelry stores in Washington, DC, Boston, and New York. The campaign's list of targeted retailers included Cartier and Piaget on New York's ritzy Fifth Avenue.
Oxfam and Earthworks said most buyers don't know gold is associated with human rights and environmental abuses.
Stephen D'Esposito, president of Earthworks, said the first step of the campaign is to build awareness about the issue. Then it will ask stores to provide buyers with information about the sources of their gold jewelry. It will then pressure mining companies to develop more responsible sources and practices.
Michele Ashby, CEO of Denver Gold Group, a trade association, denied that the industry is irresponsible.
"The industry has gone to great lengths to try to eradicate not just that kind of image but that kind of practice," she said. To stay in business, the mining companies "have to be caretakers of the earth they're disturbing." She said that in South Africa, mining companies have spent millions of dollars on healthcare, including for AIDS.
As part of the campaign, the groups released a report, "Dirty Metals: Mining, Communities and the Environment," available at the website www.nodirtygold.org.