Netherlands-based smart phone manufacturer Fairphone claims to have become the first electronics manufacturer to support Fairtrade gold mining in its supply chain.
The organisation claims it is supporting responsible gold mining in Peru in the production of its latest model, the Fairphone 2.
Before launching its first phone, Fairphone was a campaigning organisation, calling for sustainable sourcing of minerals like cobalt and copper in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Fairphone said it works to map its supply chain, trace materials used in the phone and identify opportunities for making social and environmental improvements, particularly for responsible sourcing of the conflict minerals tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
The organisation said while it continues to support initiatives to source tin and tantalum from conflict-free mines in the DRC, in developing the Fairphone 2 it has also turned its attention to tungsten and gold.
In its latest model Fairphone used a modular design to enhance repairability but also to improve Fairphone’s flexibility to select suppliers.
“These supplier relationships have been essential for piloting the gold supply chain in the electronics industry,” said Fairphone. “The successful conclusion of this project is a result of the flexibility and enthusiasm of a variety of parties.”
Fairphone’s Fairtrade gold comes from Minera Sotrami, a small-scale mining enterprise in Peru that employs 260 miners and five engineers.
The gold is refined in Valcambi refinery in Switzerland, a refinery which is licensed to process Fairtrade gold.
It is then transformed into gold salt by China’s Zhaojin Kanfort and then passed on to printed circuit board supplier AT&S.
Fairphone said it hoped to demonstrate to the consumer electronics industry that “by forming the right partnerships, it is possible to open up and map supply chains and influence more responsible sourcing practices”.
The organisation, which has sold 60,000 of its phones since launching the first model at the end of 2013, also hopes to stimulate consumer demand for electronics that contain more responsible minerals.
The Fairphone has also been handed a UN Momentum for Change Award, which is part of a UN initiative to promote sustainability.