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Dirty Gold

Chatham House, London


Michael John Bloomfield, Lecturer, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath


Gold mining can be a dirty business. It creates immense amounts of toxic materials that are difficult to dispose of. Mines are often developed without community consent, and working conditions for miners can be poor. Income from gold has funded wars and consumers buy wedding rings and gold chains often unaware about this.

In Dirty Gold, Michael Bloomfield shows what happened when Earthworks, a small Washington-based NGO, launched a campaign for ethically-sourced gold in the consumer jewellery market, targeting Tiffany and other major firms. The unfolding of the campaign and its effect on the jewellery industry offers a lesson in the growing influence of business in global environmental politics.

Bloomfield will present his recently published book and will examine the responses of three companies to ‘No Dirty Gold’ activism: Tiffany, Wal-Mart and Brilliant Earth. He finds they offer a case study in how firms respond to activist pressure and what happens when businesses participate in private governance schemes such as the ‘Golden Rules’ and the ‘Conflict-Free Gold Standard’ schemes. He will present the different opportunities for, and constrains on, corporate political mobilization within the industry.