Several denouncements by environmental and indigenous rights groups followed. The activists point out that government regulations, particularly in Nevada, are notoriously lax, and so claiming adherence could hardly be considered an accomplishment. For example Love, Earth's mercury standards meet federal guidelines but, according to scientists, allow for "unacceptable amounts" of the dangerous substance to be released.

The mines also rely on a controversial process called cyanide heap-leaching, which can result in one of the most toxic substances on Earth entering local water supplies. Indeed, the process is so problematic that it's been banned in Montana, and the European Union is considering a similar prohibition. Love, Earth boasts that its mines voluntarily subscribe to the International Cyanide Management Code. But according to Dr. Robert Moran, a hydrogeologist and geochemist whose clients included the mining industry for more than 25 years, this makes little difference.

"There is no real enforcement," Moran says. "The code was written by the industry and allows the discharge of waters that can be lethal to aquatic organisms. It also fails to measure some cyanide or cyanide-related compounds that are likely to be present at mining sites." Moreover, the code's own monitoring processes have repeatedly proven problematic. Authorities in Ghana recently fined Newmont $4.9 million for failing to prevent or properly report and investigate a 2009 cyanide spill.

The entrance to José and Mamani's former workplace. Inside, the workshops are barren except for some tables and chairs.
Noah Friedman-Rudovsky
The entrance to José and Mamani's former workplace. Inside, the workshops are barren except for some tables and chairs.
The entrance to Aurafin's factory has no sign indicating it's one of the largest factories in Bolivia.
Noah Friedman-Rudovsky
The entrance to Aurafin's factory has no sign indicating it's one of the largest factories in Bolivia.

Scott Cardiff, international campaign coordinator for Earthworks' No Dirty Gold campaign, says that his organization provided comments to Walmart during the development stage for Love, Earth but says Walmart did not end up going with the more rigorous standards. Most important, Love, Earth gold sites have never allowed for outside, third-party monitoring — a crucial component of responsibility, he says. "These [Love, Earth] mines do not represent precautionary best practice, which is what responsible mining must be," Cardiff concludes.

Additionally damaging, say community groups, is that the sites of Aurafin's raw material do not adhere to their own criteria of community approval or, in their own words: "to engage with communities directly affected by the project... ensuring that their rights are respected."

"The source mines for Love, Earth have not received this consent," says Julie Cavanagh-Bill, legal counsel for the Western Shoshone Defense Project, "and this is well-known and documented."

Cavanagh-Bill and her husband, Larson, live in a home nestled in the Ruby Mountains, just a few dozen miles from Newmont's Carlin Trend operations. Bill and his native ancestors have been on the land since before it was known as Nevada.

Larson, a cowboy-boot-wearing grandfather of two, still recalls the way he felt upon seeing the Love, Earth placard on display, listing the gold mines surrounding his land as responsible producers. An easygoing man who's quick to chuckle, Bill remembers his anger: "I said to myself: That's green?"

The entrance to Aurafin's Exportadores Bolivianos factory is tucked on a dead-end alley, perpendicular to the steep slopes of the Andean city of La Paz. There is no sign, nothing to indicate its existence as one of the largest factories in highland Bolivia. The reception area is lined with heavier security than most Bolivian airports, and to the right, a mammoth poster in Spanish: "Walmart's Standards for Suppliers."

Up a short flight of stairs is the inner sanctuary of Eduardo Bracamonte, general manager of Aurafin's factory, who granted this interview in August 2008. The clean-cut, self-assured father of two was sought out by Aurafin to start its operations in Bolivia in 1993. The factory saw 25 to 30 percent growth in its early years thanks in part to its biggest buyers, Walmart and Kmart. "I've been to Bentonville, and really, they are very pleased with our work," Bracamonte says, flashing pearly whites.

Downstairs, 680 workers toil away under the glare of fluorescent lights. At two long tables, a group of about 40 peer through magnifying lenses that resemble robotic metallic 3-D glasses as they braid gold chains. "How's it coming along?" Bracamonte asks as he pokes his head in on a group of trainees below his office. "Looking good!" he says to his polishers, resting his hand briefly on the shoulders of a few workers.

"Ah, there it is," say Bracamonte, as he smiles big and points toward a polishing table. "Love, Earth," he confirms.

Bracamonte remembers being approached about the innovative line. The Aurafin factory had already been a Walmart supplier for ten years, so when headquarters decided to partner with Walmart on the new initiative, the Bolivian facility entered in as part of the deal. According to Bracamonte, no inspectors arrived, and there was no specialized review. He recalls: "There were a lot of forms to fill out."

Those papers filed, Love, Earth production began — alongside the rest of Aurafin's normal manufacturing. "All that is just my usual stuff," Bracamonte says, pointing to the hundreds of pieces lying inches from the "responsible" ones. He explains that it's high season and that in addition to the Love, Earth order, the Aurafin factory is readying a shipment of 237,000 pieces. He admits he's slightly behind; workers are going to have to put in overtime. "That's all voluntary," Bracamonte, who likes to take the kids to Disney World, is quick to assure. "But we never have trouble in having people stay because they want to earn overtime and because my staff feels truly committed to finishing production and with top quality."

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52 comments
GK
GK

Thanks for this wonderful investigation. It's unconscionable that the workers making Love, Earth jewelry are being paid so little. As for the question of Wal-Mart’s gold, it’s important for jewelry buyers to know: the most eco-friendly way to make a new piece of gold jewelry is to use recycled gold. Jewelry made using dirty gold mining methods -- such as cyanide heap leaching -- just doesn’t qualify as eco-friendly.

Let's hope that this leads to changes in Wal-Mart's supply chain. When any jeweler claims to be selling ethical and eco-friendly jewelry, it’s important that their clams be true. Otherwise, consumers will be misled, and practices in the mining and jewelry industries won’t improve.- GK, www.brilliantearth.com

GK
GK

Thanks for this wonderful investigation. It's unconscionable that the workers making Love, Earth jewelry are being paid so little. As for the question of Wal-Mart’s gold, it’s important for jewelry buyers to know: the most eco-friendly way to make a new piece of gold jewelry is to use recycled gold. Jewelry made using dirty gold mining methods -- such as cyanide heap leaching -- just doesn’t qualify as eco-friendly.

Let's hope that this article leads to changes in Wal-Mart's supply chain. When any jeweler claims to be selling ethical and eco-friendly jewelry, it’s important that their clams be true. Otherwise, consumers will be misled, and practices in the mining and jewelry industries won’t improve.- GK, www.brilliantearth.com

hulk68
hulk68

i worked for walmart for nearly 10 years.and during that time,i can tell you from 1st hand EXPERIENCE and not from what she said or what he said or what they said.im someone who was in management in various departments and of various departments and walmart is indeed a nasty,filthy and evil company who will sell their mother and children for a profit and whos opendoor policy only results in retaliation and you being told to "take it like a man",i was told that and i declined that notion.and anyone who doesnt believe that,go get a job there and tell your story when you have had enough.and im sure walmart knew all about these peoples working conditions from the very start because companies dont just dump money into something without going to investigate it first.if thas the case,im going to get a contract with them soon and make some money too..lol

anjun37
anjun37

well what do you expect from a company whos goal is to sell cheap products, good thing i never shop there and if i do i must have no other choice but to since it is sometimes the only car place open at night.

Brickell Princess
Brickell Princess

Hmmmm....so these women have a job they do not like. Well, a lot of people have jobs they do not like and they quit and get better jobs. So why and how am I supposed to feel compassion for these self proclaimed victims of corporate greed? Did they not graduate from the medical school they attended? Or did they throw their law careers away to work in a factory? Oh, that's right! They made they choice to spread their legs wide open and start popping out children they could not afford to feed. But according to dirty hippies, that's my fault for being successful and always planning each and every step I take in life instead of throwing my ankles over my head for some papi chulo to come and make babies. Those chongas need to be taught about priorities!

I know!
I know!

It's not about Wal-Mart! it's about the companies they hire for their merchandise. They need to investigate these people! I think this article was more about The Richline Group and their illegal practices.

Elanadarkley
Elanadarkley

My freakin bike was stolen while I was inside. I always tell myself never again!

Guest
Guest

I haven't shopped at a Wal-mart in at least 6 months and plan to never step foot in one the rest of my life. Wal-Mart is the cancer of America and it is spreading around the world.

Yellowjacket
Yellowjacket

As always the evilness of white man is apparent

I know!
I know!

I worked for AURAFIN and this is HALF of their dirt... if you only new...

citizen477
citizen477

Reasonably priced? Really? Do you understand the difference between the price of something and the cost of something? Clearly, you don't. The price that you pay for products from Walmart and Target and all those "boxmarts" are not reasonably priced. If the proper costs were factored into what you pay, that would be reasonable. That is the problem with many in the West. We expect to pay little or nothing for everything, even when it is UNreasonable. It is not sustainable.

citizen477
citizen477

The thing is, though. Corporations don't have a right to exist. The governments of these countries need to stop finding the lazy way to bring jobs to their economies, i.e.: allowing these corporations to force their way in and exploit their people. Enough is enough.

Nybreeze01
Nybreeze01

stfu please..brown people are a cancer ...

DNA
DNA

A primary function of jewelry is to mark social class distinctions- to separate and mark the "elite" as superior to others. The elite rule, others are expected to obey. It is not surprising that the jewelry industry doesn't give a damn about workers health or conditions as long as they can prevent revolt by the workers. The same can be said of the ruling/political class in general. If one wants to end the injustice to workers in jewelry manufacturing stop buying and wearing the stuff. Jewelry is a marker of those seeking to achieve social supremacy and those (unconsciously or unconsciously) trying to be accepted in such groups.

phantom
phantom

No wonder this country is taking a crap and the rest of the WORLD has lost respect for it. We have so many jerks and assh**** here. And Walmarts does not give a crap about the environment. Its all about the money. And soon it will all catch up to them and the rest of this insensitive, money hungry, slave-driving fools.

linaimai
linaimai

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Air jordan(1-24)shoes $30

Handbags(Coach,ed hardy,lv,d&g) $35

Jean(True Religion,ed hardy,coogi) $35

Sunglasses(Oakey,coach,gucci,Armaini)$14

Bikini (Ed hardy,polo) $18

Guest
Guest

blah blah blah...just another paycheck hungry "journalist" writing crap!!

Kobyn
Kobyn

Mr. Buffett is making millions, having TV and radio interviews every day, being the one to follow for his capitalism voracity and other people worldwide are being treated as animals. That's the human being side that I hate the most.

Kwan Chi
Kwan Chi

I'm never to defend WM but....

The point of the WM Love, Earth is responsible mining and traceability in gold jewelry.

In reality - WM tried to actually do something good, and avoid the "dirty gold" because gold is minded from who knows where, and there are horror stories from Africa just like the "Blood Diamond", in which they developed the Kimberly Diamond act, which is to help try and prevent abuse / slave labor and keep to regulations in the diamond industry.

At least this was a step in the RIGHT direction of traceable material and having Green Watchdogs look over and APPROVE of the process.

The point I think this guy is trying to make is that it's a factory with underpaid workers - which has nothing to do with Love, Earth specifically - unless it was actually made by Walmart's factory. Unfortunately there maybe exploitations in most Third World countries - but they are also being given a job and some form of pay for themselves. They are not forced to work but they may not have the best choices either in working conditions.

At the end of the day, unfortunately,, consumers mainly don't care where there product came from or how it was made, or who made it. It's all about if they can afford it at retail and if it's not outsourced than odds are, it probably isn't affordable.

The writer of the article should ask himself "Where was my computer made, what materials were used and how was it processed, did the mainboard production process pollute the earth?" - before writing something on your computer.

I'll be looking for the next 2-4-1 domestic specials next time I'm on this site, or maybe when Mason Storm comes to Tootsies next time.

Lh7018x2
Lh7018x2

WELL, Americans better get use to the idea of being a slave too. The days of relaxed living are soon to end.

John S
John S

Its ridiculous to comment on a non story; that is , a PC non newsy story . Gold has been a slave metal sinceantiquity.

Dpacheco
Dpacheco

its a chame that people have to work like these woman but yet we the american people dont care how the product is done and at what cost and how many people have to die making it for conpannys like waltmart and they dont care cause when it comes down all the care for is the money selfish basters so waltmart should be boycott but that will never happen cause we dont care about anyone or anything.

Vanpeltquaker2
Vanpeltquaker2

Walmart investigating how their stuff is made in other parts of the world is like a buzzard looking after the dead.

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

If you don't like working for Walmart… here's and idea… DON'T WORK FOR WALMART

Svfortuna
Svfortuna

It is left wing hatchet job pieces of journalism why I am finally cancelling my AOL subscription which dates back almost 20 yrs. I'm sure the article is endorsed by an American labor union. Walmart provides jobs where there none before-- if conditions were so bad and there were other jobs the local would go to them. We stole this country "fair and square" after killing the Indians, enslaving the blacks, child labor and exploitation of immigrants--- now we have suddenly become moral compass for the world? -

BR Sumbich
BR Sumbich

So, what harm has Walmart done? Created crappy jobs in an economy that had NONE?

A wise old friend of mine told me a long time ago, give someone a job and they will hate you for life. If conditions are so bad, imagine how bad they'd be without Walmart suppliers.

Tedbell
Tedbell

These people over at News Times are COMMIE PINKOS!! GOV. RICK SCOTT, SEN. RUBIO AND REP ALAN WEST WILL GET THESE BASTARDS!!!! TE HE...TE HE...

GOD BLESS 'MURICA!!!!!!

Fxdrider
Fxdrider

Profit drives corporate discission. Money drives corporate greed. Sam must be rolling in his grave with what has happened to his company and his beliefs.

Cross002
Cross002

Oh gee, it's all Wal-Mart's fault.

...and look at the so-called journalistic source, New Times, ultra-liberal, agenda driven, sophomoric, and rush-to-judgment.

Take it with a grain of salt.

To the people and the governments involved I say, get your heads out of your **ses, try to step out of the third-world and into at least the 20th century (we're in the 21st!), demonstrate to the rest of the civilized world that you can be more than third-world mental-midgets, and quit relying on your so-called - developing nation - status to win American contracts for cheap labor.

Protect your labor force!

susan
susan

My co worker is always mad at me for shopping in Wal Mart- I dare not share this story, but I will think twice about going there now

Alexx52
Alexx52

The question here is one of morality. Am I obligated to pay more for a product so that the people makeing that product can live better lives? Am I responsible for the lives of everyone in the entire world? Can I afford to overpay for everything so that people can live better lives? Should I pay more for products so that other can have better lives? Personally, I say no! I buy what is reasonably priced. I do not concern myself with the people making the products. If you care about these people, send them some money out of your own pocket. Do not force me to support them by paying more than the product is worth. Most liberals want others to pay extra for the world's ills.If you are a liberal give the unfortunate your money not mine.

watersisland
watersisland

Wal-Mart....Schmall-Mart......This isn't about jewelery, this is about corporattions doing ANYTHING to make their bottom line bigger, no matter what the cost to the earth or human beings. Lie, deceive, and insulate themselves the reality of their actions by using subcontractors to do the filthiest and most inhumane of their work. AND THEN CALL THEMSELVES "GREEN".

EVERYONE has a responsibility to give thought to WHERE and HOW their purchases were obtained, particularly in today's corporate world of outsourcing and 'free trade'. "Corporations" primary design is to hide responsibility from individuals names.

Glenn the Jeweler
Glenn the Jeweler

This is so sad and has been going on for years in the jewelry industry. I know, I'm a jeweler and I sell only the finest lab diamonds made right here in the U.S. I'm also a member of Stop Blood Diamonds.org. If your looking for the finest Heart and Arrow Diamond simulants with no slave labor check out the link to my auctions on Ebay. No Reserve .99 cents auctions for promotions and I donate my proceeds for my pink diamonds to the Susan G. Komen, Find a cure. You can find the link to my auctions as well as Stop Blood Diamonds on my web, www.Diamonal.com Happy New Year all and lets not forget where all this so called bling comes from and the lives lost digging it up out of the ground, Glenn the Jeweler

dontchaknow
dontchaknow

Evidently, you haven't had a trip around the block in the REAL world. This article is about Walmart & their unscrupulous & unethical business practices.

Aaron
Aaron

All right, rich girl, we know you don't know what you're talking about.

anjun37
anjun37

well the problem wit that statement is that sometimes you have no choice because it is the only job in town travel the world and you will see how hard it is out there,

I know!
I know!

It's funny how they mention the work environment in Boliva. They do the same in their factory in Tamarac Florida.

VOLCAN
VOLCAN

Many may what you just said, but they are humans, snd they are being sploited by cancer causing agents(Corporations) that may soon start to give orders in the USA!!.

Rolandoe
Rolandoe

this is a real dumb comment.If you are talking Bulgari you are right, but jewelery goes far beyond that and there's a lot of examples within original population's craftsmanship

phantom
phantom

Why is the journalist writing crap? You probably one of these idiots who love to become rich on other peoples hard work. I bet you probably work for some ritzy slave-driving company. A**HOL*. I would love to see Walmarts go freaking under.

guest
guest

it's true that it IS a step in the right direction, however the line isn't just being marketed as "traceable" or "mine-to-market". it's being marketed as responsible, green, ethical. these are very different things. wal-mart is tapping into the buzz of "green" and using it to make people feel good about their purchases. you might be able to trace where the gold was mined, but that doesn't mean the mining was in any way responsible. cyanide in the water supply and complete environmental destruction isn't exactly green or responsible.

Lee Bell
Lee Bell

When it comes right down to it, there are two choices. Provide a place of employment for peope at salaries sufficient to bring employees in the surrounding community, or don't. They may not like their jobs, or their pay, but it's a whole lot better than nothing.

claudtte
claudtte

if anyone is out there read this carefully. Jesus is coming back soon, plz accept him as ur personal savior and he wants u 2 reconcile with ur enemies. Its not a joke believe n him n do the right things every possible ways. May the Lord on high pour his blessings upon anyone who read n believe n him.

BR Sumbich
BR Sumbich

the primary objective of any corporation is to generate profit. Walmart also CREATES many millions of jobs all over the world, and provides health insurance for millions of americans. And BTW, Sam is probably smiling at the lives he has touched. If you don't like the pay scale or conditions, find somewhere else to work.

LolaKnows
LolaKnows

Your mother must have been a real piece of work to have raised some idiot like you.

doyourownresearch
doyourownresearch

Hey Glenn, save your proceeds from your pink diamonds, as there is no plan nor has there ever been a plan to find a cure, they're pocketing your proceeds & passing along maybe 2% for any research. (as with any non-profit, they pay NO taxes - bottom line, They're making more $ with their diabolical treatments.) WalMart doesn't care about where their merchandise originates either.

boogiemann1
boogiemann1

Glenn if I weren't so broke, you would be selling me some gold or diamonds right now. A business man with morals.......refreshing!

Glenn the Jeweler
Glenn the Jeweler

Hi Boogiemann1, thanks for your reply. Shoot me an e-mail and tell me what you'd like and i'll send you a few free samples, really, no charge, My e-mail is in my web www.diamonal.com thanks again and happy new year, Glenn

 
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