Frequently asked questions of the Fair Congo initiatives:
What is the difference between Fair Congo, sarl and the Fair Congo Foundation?
Fair Congo, sarl (www.faircongo.com) is a for-profit export company operating under the standards designed by the Fair Congo Foundation and its stakeholders. Fair Congo, sarl is the first and only export operation in DRC operating in line with OECD DDG and the first and only to work with LBMA members.
The Fair Congo Foundation is a non-profit whose tasks include management of the export standards of Fair Congo, sarl. The Foundation also manages several women and youth empowerment initiatives and promotes and markets art from the DRC.
How does Fair Congo (‘Origins’) maintain its chain of custody?
Each level of the supply chain goes through individual training and is provided with equipment and materials to ensure a well-documented and compliant chain of custody. Inventory controlled; tamper-evident bags are used along each step to prevent contamination.
Does Fair Congo (‘Origins’) use a ‘mass balance’ approach or use segregation?
Fair Congo (‘Origins’) maintains segregation of all material by mine site until it is received in the processing facility, undergone XRF analysis and approved for smelting. Since material is only being sourced from ‘green’ validated sites and in partnership with development stakeholders it is smelted together for export. This allows Fair Congo (‘Origins’) to semi-refine its material, often received with significant impurities, to less than 1% trace elements with exception of silver content.
What kind of traceability and due diligence measures does Fair Congo (‘Origins’) use?
Material traceability is maintained through the use of a verified documentation process, due diligence of every level in the supply chain, consistent site monitoring and, in the case of ASM gold, use of spectrograph technology.
How does Fair Congo (‘Origins’) monitor mine sites to ensure continued compliance?
Fair Congo (‘Origins’) monitors sites with regular, consistent physical and desktop reviews. Fair Congo (‘Origins’) also works closely with civil society to understand what happens at sites between inspections and has mechanisms in place for anonymous reporting of potential issues along its supply chain. Each level of the supply chain also has a self-reporting tool which assists in monitoring and verification during site inspections.
How does Fair Congo (‘Origins’) ensure that material from non-certified sites does not ‘leak’ into its supply chain?
Through a combination of the Fair Congo (‘Origins’) due diligence, strong management systems, traceability and chain of custody measures in place we maintain the most robust sourcing system possible. No one step of our process is without redundancy, ensuring that even when one piece of the chain may fail, another covers it to ensure the integrity is not lost.
What does Fair Congo (‘Origins’) do to ensure the worst forms of child labor are not practiced at its sourcing sites?
Child labor in general is a very complicated and often culturally nuanced issue. However, labor which puts the child in danger is unacceptable on any level or any location. Fair Congo follows guidance provided by OECD which provides practical actions to address this concern. Additionally, the Fair Congo Foundation and its funding partner Chambers Federation implement a variety of projects to empower women which helps keep children out of mine sites. Children can often be found at sourcing sites often not always because they are engaged in dangerous or hard labor but because their family, their mother, is there working. Providing opportunities, alternative livelihoods to women is at the core of the majority of investments made by the Chambers Federation. That doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t be allowed to work at the sourcing sites, but rather that they should be empowered with options, especially when they are mothers. Through this empowerment their incomes are increased and then able to afford schooling for their children. In addition to empowering women, Fair Congo works with local government and civil society to monitor sites specifically to ensure children are not put at risk.
Why doesn’t Fair Congo (‘Origins’) work with one of the commonly recognized Fair-Trade labeling brands?
Simply, they don’t work in our area. Fair Congo (‘Origins’) reached out to all of the major fair-trade labels and not one is actively working in DRC. On top of that, the majority of the labels place a financial burden on the communities that produce what they call ‘fair trade’ products. Consumer’s naturally believe that because a product is labeled ‘fair-trade’ that it means the producer received a higher level of compensation. That isn’t always true, especially in context of gold. Fair Congo (‘Origins’) is, however, engaging several fair-trade organizations, not brands, to work in collaboration, with an end goal to become the 1st member in DRC and a widely recognized supplier of fair-trade material. The difference with Fair Congo (‘Origins’) standards is we ensure those higher values are actually realized by the producers and that any cost of certification or audit is born by us, not the community.
Is the Fair Congo (‘Origins’) supply chain perfect or infallible?
No, of course not, but we have built in the most robust due diligence measures to ensure quick adaptability and installed the strongest measures to mitigate as much risk as possible. Fair Congo (‘Origins’) works with and depends on all of the development stakeholders engaged in responsible gold, most importantly the local community and civil society. It is also important to understand that OECD guidelines do not expect perfection but rather a supply chains capacity to understand, identify and adapt to risks.
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