BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Walmart's green-positioned Love, Earth jewelry line has gotten a black eye from an expose in the Broward/Palm Beach County New Times, which says precious metals for its products are mined using cyanide and with Bolivian workers making as little as $35 monthly. But Walmart says a third-party auditor couldn't substantiate allegations in the article.
The piece by Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, a freelance journalist based in La Paz, Bolivia, who is also Time magazine's Bolivia reporter and a producer for ABC News, said workers for Aurafin, a mining company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, are subjected to strip searches and not provided with masks to prevent them from inhaling gold dust. It also says gold for Love, Earth comes from U.S. mines with no better environmental practices than those of other U.S. mines.
Walmart has engaged in an extensive and well-publicized sustainability drive since 2005, and Love, Earth has been one outgrowth of that effort, championed by former CEO and current Walmart Stores Chairman Lee Scott.
Walmart Stores spokesman Kory Lundberg said in an email statement: "We take reports like this very seriously and launched an investigation based on these claims. Our third-party independent auditing firm was unable to substantiate any of the allegations."
A spokesman for Berkshire Hathaway couldn't immediately be reached for comment.