As more youth become interested in investing in gold, it is important to raise awareness about its journey from mine to market. Behind the glitz and glamour of shiny new jewellery lies a hidden – and toxic – secret: the dangers of mercury.
Held at Jakarta’s Museum MACAN (Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara), UNDP’s “5th SDGTalks: Our Golden Future, Responsible Gold Mining” explored the issue with world renowned jewellery designer Rinaldy A. Yunardi, social entrepreneur Delia von Rueti, National Project Manager Gold-ISMIA UNDP Indonesia Baiq Dewi Krisnayati, and Co-founder and CEO of Tamasia, Muhammad Assad.
The talks shed light on SDG #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG #3 Good Health and Well Being and SDG # 13 Climate Action
In many countries, including Indonesia, mercury is used to extract gold in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASGM). In fact, Indonesia is one of the world’s top three mercury emitters because of ASGM, with an estimated 340 tonnes (approximately 15 truck containers) seeping into our land, water and air. UNDP’s Gold-ISMIA programme aims to reduce these emissions. This five-year initiative--a partnership comprising UNDP Indonesia, Global Environmental Facility and the Government of Indonesia--aims to curb the use of harmful mercury in ASGM, improve the living conditions of artisanal miners and support policies to reduce mercury use in Indonesia.
This toxic mineral has a severe impact on environmental and human health including neurological disorders stemming from consumption of contaminated food.. All the more reason to raise awareness of its role in gold mining.
“The direct and indirect effects of mercury are invisible and unknown to the everyday consumer. It is difficult to make people believe in the dangers of mercury, even miners who are not aware or do not believe that there are negative effects. This is because mercury’s effects are indirect and enters the body,” said Dewi Krisnayanti, Project Manager of UNDP’s Gold-ISMIA programme.
In recent years, Indonesian fintech (financial technology) has also targeted millennials for gold investment. When Assad set up mobile app Tamasia, he wanted to provide millennials a new approach of investing gold online. People can buy and save gold for as little as IDR 20,000 and print gold bullion with a minimum weight of 0.5 grammes.
This new approach togold investment has expanded the customer base; nonetheless the new target market isn’t necessarily aware of gold’s back story, Assad said.
Assad insisted that his newly launched app only sources gold from responsible miners. He also emphasised the role and responsibility of companies and stakeholders to ensure the mines are legal and employ sustainable means of production either through policies and or certificate programmes.
To achieve SDG #12, the responsible consumption of gold is just as important as its production. According to UNEP, there is 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore.
“We need to use things responsibly, take only what we need from nature and make an effort to use gold that is mined sustainably,” said Rinaldy Yunardi who has designed jewellery for Hollywood luminaries Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Madonna among others.
Social entrepreneur and environmental conservationist Delia von Rueti echoed his sentiments. “You have to constantly ask yourself how big of an impact can you make she said. “You must start with yourself first before branching out to others. We have the power to destroy and to fix. What can you do? People have the ability to do things. You can raise awareness, make campaigns,” she noted.
Text By Kiana Bonnick
Edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose