Commission statement on mining supply chain for London 2012 medals

June 15, 2012

In November 2010, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 called for LOCOG to ‘demonstrate how they will ensure that the flowers and medals can be used as symbols of sustainability at Games-time’.

The Commission recognises the significant and positive contribution that Rio Tinto and LOCOG made when committing to a more sustainable approach to medal production for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

LOCOG ensured Rio Tinto had ISO 14001 in place for the primary mining operation; the Historic Futures string system was being used to provide supply chain transparency from mine to medal which is an Olympic first; and, Rio Tinto is seeking certification under the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), this is a third party certified evaluation that covers a range of sustainability issues.

Both the Responsible Jewellery Council initiative, and the Historic Futures string system (which provides full traceability for mined metals), are significant and positive initiatives deriving from the jewellery, mining and metals industries.

The Commission recognises that LOCOG’s approach as set out above represents a significant step forward from previous Games in delivering greater transparency in mining supply chains for medal production.

Nonetheless, despite this positive progress, there are areas of concern to the Commission:

  1. In the Commission’s report – In sight of the finishing line – we reported that ‘A full chain of custody is being obtained for the metals, including ISO 14001 certification for mines and use of the Responsible Jewellery Council standards.’ We were advised by LOCOG that a Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) would not be required as the Responsible Jewellery Council certification included an independent audit. The audit required to support the process of certification was substantially delayed, which means that the mine for the medals has not yet been certified. However, we understand that significant progress has been made towards certification, which will be a first for an Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  2. The Commission met with the London Mining Network and the Utah Moms for Clean Air on 18 April 2012, in London to listen to their concerns about poor air quality in the Kennecott mine area. Despite being encouraged to do so by the Commission at this meeting, we understand that LMN and the Utah Moms for Clean Air have not gathered and sent their evidence to LOCOG for consideration.
  3. Despite no formal complaint from LMN and the Utah Moms for Clean Air, the Commission acted on these concerns and raised them with LOCOG on 20 April 2012, and has continued to follow up with LOCOG to investigate what progress has been made. We have asked LOCOG whether it has sought an independent investigation of the issue and we understand that they currently have no plans to do so. It is disappointing that LOCOG has chosen not to investigate this case to date.