Where does the gold come from in Germany

Dhe gold industry in Germany works almost exclusively with recycled material. This clearly distinguishes it from the world market, where the recycling share is around a third, according to the Pforzheim-based trade association for precious metals. “This means that almost 100 percent of the gold produced in this country comes from recycling, with the exception of co-products of copper ores,” said director general York Tetzlaff of the German Press Agency.

This has to do with the fact that Germany is a country with few raw materials and there are no differences in quality between extracted and recycled gold. Precious metals can be melted down and reused as often as desired. There is also the aspect of sustainability. According to Tetzlaff, studies show that recycled gold has a carbon footprint 1,000 times smaller than material from mines.

How serious is the information?

“A few years ago there was still an attitude that recycling did not go well with the emotional factor of gold,” said the expert. But with the change in the fashion industry, something has also happened in the gold sector: the European jewelery industry, for example, increasingly relies on sustainable production through so-called recycling and upcycling of old gold, and some jewelers also offer special products. lines with so-called fair trade gold.

But how serious is that information? Tetzlaff emphasized that local refineries have been certified several times. Independent auditors annually verify compliance with the requirements. And in 2021 an EU regulation on the responsible purchase of raw materials came into force that deals, among other things, with the protection of human rights, the rejection of criminal activities and the protection of the environment. However, the industry is still waiting for Brussels to officially recognize the corresponding certification initiatives as planned.

Tetzlaff sees greater risks in meeting environmental and social standards, especially in small-scale mining, where about 10 percent of the world’s primary gold came from. In the Arab and Asian region, for example, people often do not pay as much attention to sustainable supply chains. He admitted that this gold can reach Germany through diversions. “Unfortunately, that cannot be completely ruled out.”

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Michael Reckort sees it more critically. He is an expert in raw materials for the PowerShift association, which is committed to an ecological, solidarity-based energy and global economy. “Unfortunately, as a consumer, he has little ability to track where the raw materials in the final products come from, whether it’s IT or jewelry.” An exception is Fairtrade certified gold, as there are generally short supply chains and direct supply relationships. “Otherwise, only companies know, in part, their supply chains. It remains very difficult to understand the path taken by gold. There are repeated reports of gold from problematic mines. According to Reckordt, certificates increase credibility. But always it is necessary to ask what was certified and who was questioned.

The EU Conflict Minerals Regulation also has weak points, such as threshold values ​​above which importers first have to demonstrate their duty of care. It also does not target processed products containing these raw materials and manufactured outside the EU.


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