Supporting Abandoned Mine Reclamation
The American West is home to some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes—as well as an estimated 150,000 abandoned hard rock mines. Although more than 150 years have passed since the U.S. gold rush, chemicals that leaked into the earth and water systems from these mines still threaten sensitive watersheds, ecosystems and native species.
As a jeweller that sources metals primarily in the United States, we are concerned about the toxic legacy of mining in the American West, and we are working to address these impacts. Since 2003, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s Responsible Mining program has awarded more than USD $4 million to support nonprofit organisations that are remediating land and watersheds affected by historic mining in the United States. These include Trout Unlimited, which has completed over 38 abandoned mine restoration projects in six states, and the Clark Fork Coalition, which returns approximately 6.8 billion gallons of water to depleted waterways in Montana each year. We also value the work of “Good Samaritans,” who voluntarily clean up mine-related pollution, and we are advocating for the federal government to reform the outdated U.S. General Mining Law of 1872 to protect the work of these Good Samaritans and further promote the cleanup of abandoned mines.
Protecting Bristol Bay
Certain places in our world have the power to inspire awe for their natural beauty alone. These places deserve special protection. We began speaking out against the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s stunning Bristol Bay over a decade ago, and we continue to stand by that position today. If developed, the Pebble Mine would become one of the largest open-pit gold and copper mines, sitting at the headwaters of one of the world’s greatest remaining wild salmon watersheds. We believe the Bristol Bay ecosystem, and the thousands of jobs it provides, is too precious and valuable to put at risk. In 2008, we were one of the first jewellers to sign the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge and declare that, should the proposed Pebble Mine be developed, we will not source gold from it.
In 2019, our Chief Sustainability Officer, Anisa Kamadoli Costa, testified before the U.S. Congress and reiterated our opposition to the Pebble Mine. She outlined why Tiffany & Co. believes it is important that rigorous environmental review of any mining projects occur, with proper consultation of local stakeholders, especially with respect to projects that threaten to disrupt pristine landscapes such as Bristol Bay. We are proud to work with native communities, concerned scientists, sport and commercial fishermen, the conservation community and the many Alaskans committed to protecting this pristine and productive ecosystem. Despite many years of uncertainty around Bristol Bay, we remain steadfast in our support of protecting this landscape and its salmon habitats.
“Certain places in our world have the power to inspire awe for their natural beauty alone. These places deserve special protection.”
Restoring Habitats in Alaska
For many years, Tiffany & Co. has supported organizations that remediate abandoned historical mining sites to clean up polluted landscapes and waterways, making these habitats safe for fish and wildlife.
In 2018, Tiffany & Co. and Apple provided seed funding for the Salmon Gold pilot to advance these efforts through an innovative model that produces gold using responsible mining techniques and simultaneously restores critical habitats for salmon and other species at placer mine sites in Alaska. The program has since expanded to additional sites in Alaska and Canada. Through this program, without the use of chemicals, miners cleanly re-mine tailings for the remaining gold in streams and rivers that are affected by past mining. Miners then restore these sites and rehabilitate their habitats. Salmon Gold is a social enterprise founded by RESOLVE, a nonprofit organisation that promotes sustainable solutions to social and environmental challenges. Salmon Gold and its partners—gold miners and end users such as Tiffany, as well as communities, conservationists and government agencies—seek to combine responsible mining techniques with restoration activities to achieve a positive conservation impact.
The first responsibly mined Salmon Gold is in the Tiffany supply chain, and we have increased our purchases from this program each year since 2018. Tiffany’s commitment to protecting the world’s special places drives our investments in responsible mining, and our purchase of Salmon Gold proves how producing gold can support restoration and conservation.
Supporting Oceans and Marine Conservation
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s mission is to preserve the world’s seascapes and landscapes. To date, the Foundation has awarded over USD $90 million in grants, of which more than USD $26 million has been awarded to grantees that support coral and marine conservation. For example, the Foundation supports organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International and Oceana. The Foundation is also a partner in Oceans 5, a funder collaborative dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans.
Though oceans cover more than 70% of the globe, only about 5% is actively protected, which is short of the target that the UN set to be protected by 2020. We believe 30% needs to be protected by 2030, which means protections need to be scaled up at an even faster rate than the current global target.
Through 2020, Foundation grantees have supported the designation of many of the world’s largest marine protected areas covering approximately 10 million square kilometers of ocean, an area larger than the size of the United States.
Protecting U.S. National Monuments
As natural resources become scarcer, now is a pivotal time for the protection of public lands from mining. Some of these places received a protected designation more than a century ago, and these lands are simply not suited for resource extraction due to their high ecological, cultural and recreational value and significance to Indigenous peoples. We believe it’s important to advocate for the protection of treasured landscapes and public lands.
We focus our advocacy on land conservation in the American West. For many years, we have dedicated our advocacy toward legislative reform that would increase the protection of the environment and ensure that taxpayers are fairly compensated when minerals are taken from public lands. We believe the mining industry should embrace a new, thoughtful approach to public lands.
We also believe that public lands are an essential part of our national heritage and worth protecting for communities to enjoy for generations to come. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation complements our Company’s efforts through grants to organisations such as the Conservation Lands Foundation, which works to protect, restore and expand America’s public lands, rivers and trails.
Learn More About Our Sustainability Efforts