CIBJO seminar in Vicenza looks at impact on jewellery industry of new EU conflict minerals legislation and strategies for dealing with its requirements

The significance and potential impact on the jewellery industry of Regulation (EU) 2017/821, which will control the import into the European Union of gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten from conflict and high-risk areas, came under the spotlight at a seminar for the jewellery industry in Vicenza on September 24, organised by CIBJO and the Italian Exhibition Group.

Participants were welcomed by Gaetano Cavalieri, CIBJO’s President, and by Matteo Marzotto, IEG’s Executive Vice President.

The seminar, which was moderated by Philip Olden, a consultant to Signet Jewelers and the former managing director of the World Gold Council, brought together a panel of expert speakers, representing government, international and European organisations, business standards organisations and the jewellery, precious metals and gemstone industries.

Panel members included Marten Westrup, Coordinator of Energy and Raw Materials at the European Commission, DG Trade; Hannah Koep-Andrieu, Policy Adviser-Extractives in the Responsible Business Conduct division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);  France Capon, Secretary General of the European Precious Metals Federation (EPMF); Andrew Bone, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC); Sakhila Mirza, Executive Board Director and General Counsel of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA); Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the World Diamond Council (WDC); and Francesca Angeloni, Business Development Manager Europe Jewellery and Watch Industry in the Consumer & Retail Services division of UL.

While the regulatory regime established by the new law will be fully enforced only from January 2021, providing sufficient time for businesses to adapt to its provisions, its basic framework has been outlined in the legislation that was passed by the European Parliament in May.  But there are still benchmarks, procedures and requirements that need to be formulated by the European Commission, which will be providing guidance to the business community

Matteo Marzotto (left), Executive Vice President of the Italian Exhibition Group, and Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO, welcoming participants to the seminar in Vicenza.

Philip Olden, seminar moderator.

in the months ahead. This will include a white list of approved refineries and smelters, located both inside and outside of the EU, from which purchases of gold will not trigger automatic third-party auditing requirements.

Mr. Westrup explained that the EU’s approach to conflict minerals and the recently enacted regulation has the main objective of ensuring sufficient supply chain due diligence in imports of gold and 3Ts from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

Mr. Westrup noted that the four-year lead-in time before the requirements are to be met and the setting of thresholds below which importers are exempt from the legal requirements for due diligence are in part meant to meet the concerns of small and medium-sized enterprises. He explained that the thresholds set out in the regulation (100 kilogram per annum for gold) are intended to ensure that at least 95 percent of imports of each metal or mineral are covered, while at the same time underlining that companies without legal obligations under the EU regulation also should carry out due diligence as far as possible.

Ms. Koep-Andrieu noted that the five-step process outlined in the OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas forms the basis of the new EU regulations, and that all companies could begin integrating its requirements into their systems of management, so as to become compliant with the new regime before 2021, regardless of size. She also pointed out that the guidance is applicable to all minerals, and not only gold and the 3Ts.

Ms. Capon outlined the efforts already taken by the members of the European Precious Metals Federation to ensure that the gold they are importing is subject to the type of due diligence outlined in the new EU regulations. She also was critical about the 100-kilogram threshold, saying that it undermined the efforts of other companies seeking to become compliant, while suggesting that it be reduced significantly or eliminated completely.

Noting that membership in the Responsible Jewellery Council has long passed the 1,000-company mark, Mr. Bone described the organisation as the leading

responsible business standards organisation in the jewellery sector. The RJC Code of Practices, which is an international standard of responsible business practices for diamonds, gold and platinum group metals, accommodates the OECD guidelines, and, if one is RJC-certified, compliance with the new EU regulations will be easily achieved, he said.

Ensuring the integrity of the precious metals market, Ms. Mirza, said that LBMA’s Responsible Gold Guidance helps ensure the long-term integrity of the wholesale gold business.

The LBMA good delivery list, which is widely recognised as the de facto standard for precious metals markets around the world as to what refiners’ gold and silver bars are acceptable, today includes 71 gold refiners from 31 countries, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of world production. Its due diligence standards are also compliant with the OECD guidance document, Ms. Mirza said.

Relating the experience of the diamond industry in implementing a rigid regulatory system to stem the flow of minerals financing conflict, Mr. Fischler noted that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme differs from the EU regulations in that places a significant burden on government, while the European system focuses its attention predominantly on company self-regulation. Nonetheless, he added, while government is more directly involved in monitoring rough diamond imports and exports, diamond companies still need do due diligence, both in maintaining records of KP certificates in the rough diamond trade, and in complying with the WDC System of Warranties in the polished diamond business. While the approach of the Kimberley Process differs from that of the OECD guidance, Mr. Fischler said he is supportive of the principles expressed in the OECD document, and stressed that the industry in general needs to promote a mutual commitment to “a duty of care.”

Ms. Angeloni provided the perspective of one of the largest companies conducting third-party audits in the jewellery industry, presenting a checklist of procedures that companies will need to undergo in order to achieve compliance with the new EU regulations. She also announced that UL is developing a toolkit together with CIBJO, which will serve as a roadmap for companies in navigating the new regulatory regime.

In his concluding remarks, Mr. Olden remarked that, while the introduction of the EU regulations will represent a formative moment for both the precious metals and jewellery sectors, the seminar demonstrated that systems are already in place to make compliance more achievable than some may have feared. “If you insist that your bank buy only from LBMA-approved refiners, and you are certified by a code of practices such as that of the Responsible Jewellery Council, then in all likelihood you will have in place all the various elements required to become compliant,” he said.

Mr. Olden proposed that the speakers on stage endorse the following statement: “This panel supports the principles of duty of care and supply chain due diligence. We encourage participants in the jewellery supply chain to engage with industry organisations to ensure compliance with industry guidance and standards relating to responsible sourcing.” The speakers supported the resolution.

 

PRESENTATIONS

MARTEN WESTRUP
Coordinator of Energy and Raw Materials, European Commission, DG Trade
Coordinating the approach to energy and raw materials in the Directorate-General for Trade of the European Commission, with a special focus on conflict minerals, Mr. Westrup previously was a team leader in the Directorate-General for Energy, primarily driving forward the EU’s approach to renewable energy, energy efficiency and Greenhouse Gas reductions in a 2030 perspective.

HANNAH KOEP-ANDRIEU
Policy Adviser-Extractives in the Responsible Business Conduct division,  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Today focusing on extractives and supply chain due diligence, Ms. Koep-Andrieu  has extensive field experience. She has worked on risk and impact assessments in the extractives sector, with a focus on stakeholder engagement, artisanal mining, security and human rights issues.

FRANCE CAPON
Secretary General,European Precious Metals Federation (EPMF)
Ms. Capon is responsible for representing the European Precious Metals Federation (EPMF), as well as for managing the projects and associated budgets  of the EPMF and Precious Metals & Rhenium consortium, while guarding the application of the articles of the association and the internal rules of the federation.

ANDREW BONE
Executive Director, Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)
Following a long and successful career at De Beers, during which he was instrumental in setting up the World Diamond Council and the formation of the Kimberley Process, for the  past two years Mr. Bone has headed the management team at the jewellery industry’s largest responsible business standards organisation.

SAKHILA MIRZA
Executive Board Director and General Counsel, London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)
Ms. Mirza is responsible for all the legal and regulatory work of LBMA and that of London Precious Metals Clearing Limited (LPMCL).  Her role involves the LBMA’s work in relation to responsible sourcing, and lobbying efforts on behalf of members on a wide range of regulatory issues, including EU conflict minerals regulation.

STEPHANE FISCHLER
Acting President, World Diamond Council
A founding member of the World Diamond Council, Mr. Fischler has headed the body since June 2017. He is treasurer of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, a member of the board of the Responsible Jewellery Council, vice president of the Diamond Development Initiative, and the current president of the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC).

FRANCESCA ANGELONI
Business Development Manager Europe Jewellery and Watch Industry, Consumer & Retail Services, UL
Ms. Angeloni is responsible for inspections, testing and responsible sourcing services related to the jewellery sector at UL. After beginning her career in fine jewellery retail in Italy, she later worked as a diamond advisor and  jewellery expert for for the HSE24 TV Channel. She is a co-founder of an Italian fashion jewellery line.

PHOTO CREDIT FOR ALL IMAGES: La Presse
2017-12-07T11:56:19+00:00