The World Gold Council has issued a new raft of ‘Responsible Gold Mining Principles’ in the wake of gold’s increased demand in the past 12 months. The price of gold in Dollar terms has increased by 25.10% in that time – almost $300 more per ounce.

The global economic slowdown is a big factor in gold’s demand at present, with central banks leading the way with large-scale gold purchases. The organisation, which is a hub for gold mining, trading, and investment, is keen to do more to keep gold’s appeal high by ensuring the market all but eliminates involvement in criminal acts, or breaches of human and employment rights.

Investors who purchase bars approved by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) are already supporting stringent principles to protect those working in the mining and refining process, but the World Gold Council wants to spread this level of enforcement across the wider gold market to ensure fair treatment for all.

According to statistics, almost 95% of the WGC’s membership have signed up to the new principles published by the Council, though the concern is that non-members may ignore the guidelines. Artisanal gold mining is very small scale, often orchestrated by criminal groups, and usually hazardous. While the quantity of gold mined is small, typically traded domestically rather than internationally, the World Gold Council is still concerned about the impact on the workers, the local community, and also the environment. recently reported an increase in gold mine exploration as of July – the latest set of figures provided by Mining Intelligence’s data application. The information showed that the investigations ongoing were not just explorations of existing advanced projects, but rather many new, as-yet-untested sites. While this data specifically accounts for larger, registered firms, it’s clear that there is a strong desire to find and mine new sources of gold at present; whether legally pursued or not.

The big challenge now for the Council will be to pressure non-compliant markets into cooperating with the organisation and bringing about important health and safety regulations to these small-scale artisanal miners who, in nearly all cases, are working these dangerous jobs out of desperation.