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Mr Timothy Schroder followed by Ms Adrienne Le Bas and Mr Ronald W A Le Bas

40th Anniversary Celebrations

Geneva (27 October 2015): The 40th Anniversary of the Convention was celebrated at Goldsmiths' Hall in London (United Kingdom) on 9 September 2015 in the form of a gala event, followed by the 77th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) and the 17th meeting of the International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO).

More than 100 participants attended the gala event at the Goldsmiths' Hall, which is considered as the birthplace of the Convention. Guests were greeted by the Goldsmiths Company's pike men and introduced formally to the Prime Warden, Mr Timothy Schroder.  Guests were then convened to dinner, during which an official message from His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, was read out.  The dinner ended with a concert by the Ogmore Valley Choir, an outstanding Welsh male choir.  All guests were provided with a commemorative brochure on the Convention's 40th Anniversary, which includes interesting data and facts on hallmarking in the 19 Contracting States.

On behalf of the SC, the Chairman thanked the Prime Warden, Goldsmiths' Hall and the Organising Committee, chaired by Dr Robert Organ (Assay Office London), for having organised and hosted the Convention's 40th Anniversary. 

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Tel Aviv


Geneva (16 March 2015): The 76th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 10 March 2015 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 42 officials representing 20 countries of which 17 Contracting States, 2 Applicant States (Croatia and Serbia) and guest from Georgia.

The SC recommended to Governments to invite both Croatia and Serbia to join the Convention (see separate press release).

It discussed the situation in the Ukraine, which is in the process of acceding, and agreed to ask the Depositary to write to the Ukrainian Government in order to clarify the situation following the liquidation of the Central Office of the Ukrainian State Assay Office (the regional Assay Offices will remain).

The SC discussed issues related to the competence of Assay Offices, authorised under Article 5 of the Convention, as well as their ability to test and mark precious metals articles in line with the Convention's Annexes and related Technical Decisions. 

The SC noted with satisfaction that the number of articles, marked with the Convention's Common Control Mark (CCM), had increased by 12% in 2014 and totalled 5,996,217 articles, of which 35.3% were off-site marked.

The Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office), provided a report on the last STG meeting held in Geneva on 12 January 2015, during which Mr Jan van Pelt (Waarborg Holland) was elected STG Deputy Chairman.  The SC followed a recommendation by the STG to request all Ministries to update the questionnaire on the independence of Assay Offices.

The SC noted that the preparations of the Convention's 40th Anniversary were on track.  The Chairman of the Organising Committee, Dr Robert Organ (Assay Office London), provided an update and presented a first draft of the 40th Anniversary Brochure.

Members bid farewell to Ms Helena Felgas (Portuguese Assay Offices) and the Mr János Teleszky (Hungarian Assay Authority) who attended the SC for the last time - see photos below.

The SC agreed to reconvene in London (United Kingdom) on 10 September 2015 in connection with the Convention's 40th Anniversary.

 


Farewell to Janos Teleszky


Ronald Le Bas (Chairman) bidding farewell to János Teleszky, Director of the Hungarian Assay Authority

 


Farewell to Helena Felgas


Ronald Le Bas (Chairman) bidding farewell to Helena Esteves Felgas, Director of the Portuguese Assay Office

 


Croatia and Serbia recommended to join the Convention


Tel Aviv (12 March 2015): At its meeting in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 10 March 2015, the Standing Committee (SC) has unanimously agreed to recommend to the Governments of the Convention's 19 Contracting States to invite both Croatia and Serbia to join the Convention.

The recommendation is based on reports issued following the inspection of Serbia and Croatia on 10-11 November and 13-14 November 2014, respectively. 

The recommendation will be officially transmitted to Governments by the Conventions' Depositary, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

 


Crotia and Serbia invited to join the Convention


Geneva (27 October 2015): On behalf of the Governments of the Convention's 19 Contracting States, the Conventions' Depositary - the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs - has invited both Croatia and Serbia to join the Convention.  It is now up to these two countries to ratify the Convention and deposit the instrument of ratification with the Depositary before they are officially admitted.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Lisbon


Geneva (6 October 2014): The 75th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Lisbon (Portugal) on 22 September 2014 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 50 officials representing 21 countries of which 18 Contracting States, 2 Applicant States (Croatia and Serbia) and guest from Georgia.

The SC re-elected the Chairman, Mr Ronald Le Bas (Irish Assay Office); the First Deputy Chairman, Mr Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office); and the Second Deputy Chairperson, Ms. Maria Magdalena Ulaczyk (Polish Regional Assay Offices) for the period 2015-2016.

The SC discussed a proposal by the Standing Technical Group (STG) to amend the Convention's Annexes and Technical Decisions.  The proposal includes the possibility to allow intermediate base metal layers in silver articles, subject to conditions, as well as the possibility to apply a combined CCM and Assay Office mark. 

The issue of how to deal with "non-recognised entities" such as Kosovo and Palestine as well as their possible participation in the SC as guests were also debated.  The SC agreed to deal with these entities on a case-by-case basis.

The SC reviewed the outcome of a survey, sent to representatives of Ministries, on possible changes to the functioning of the Convention, in particular the decision-making process. 

The SC welcomed the forthcoming inspections to both Serbia and Croatia on 10-11 November 2014 and 13-14 November 2014, respectively.  With regard to the dispute on Italy's accession, which has been opposed by the Czech Republic, SC Members agreed to consult their Governments on how end the current stalemate.

The SC revised the mandate of the Standing Technical Group (STG) and appointed "Corresponding Members", who will help the current 6 STG Members with their heavy workload.  The new STG Chair is Mr Thomas Brodmann (Swiss Assay Office).

Members finally agreed to reconvene in Tel Aviv (Israel ) on 10 March 2015. 

 


Inspections to Serbia and Croatia

Geneva (9 December 2014): Two Inspection Teams visited Serbia and Croatia on 10-11 November 2014 and 13-14 November 2014, respectively.  Both Croatia and Serbia have applied for membership and in line with the Convention's requirements an inspection took place to clarify their capability of conforming with the Convention's requirements. The Members of the Inspection Team were: Mr Ronald Le Bas from the Irish Assay Office (acting as Team Leader), Mr Thomas Brodmann from the Swiss Assay Office, Ms Nataša Mejak-Vukovic from Slovenia (for Serbia only), Dr Irena Grabec Švegl from Slovenia (for Croatia only), and Mr Daniel Brunner, Secretary.  The inspections took place on the premises of the Directorate of Measures and Precious Metals (DMDM) in Belgrade (see photo above) and the State Office for Metrology in Zagreb (see photo below).  The reports will be tabled at the spring meeting of the Standing Committee where they will be discussed and hopefully endorsed. If this is the case, all Convention's Contracting States will then be consulted on whether they accept to invite Croatia and Serbia to join the Convention

 


Croatia applies for membership


Geneva (10 February 2014): Following a declaration of intent, Croatia has now applied for membership to the Convention. The complete application was received on 31 January 2014. The next step will be for the Standing Committee to appoint an Inspection Team, which will visit Croatia in order to verify that the country is able to apply the Convention's requirements. The visit will take place in the course of 2014.

 


Italy's Accession in Impasse


Geneva (26 October 2015): The Conventions' Depositary - the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs - has officially informed the Governments of the 19 Contracting States as well as the Government of Italy that due to the Czech Government's objection, Italy cannot accede to the Convention.  At the same time, the Depositary has urged the Contracting States to consider whether to offer mediation or any other mean to settle the dispute.

 


Serbia applies for membership


Geneva (29 October 2013): Following a declaration of intent, Serbia has now applied for membership to the Convention. The complete application was received on 15 October 2013. The next step will be for the Standing Committee to appoint an Inspection Team, which will visit Serbia in order to verify that the country is able to apply the Convention's requirements. The visit will take place in the course of 2014.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Lisbon

Geneva (30 September 2013): The 73rd meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Lisbon (Portugal) on 16 September 2013 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 64 officials representing 27 countries of which 19 Contracting States, 3 Applicant States (Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine) and 6 non-Members (Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Romania, and Russia). It was the first time that the meeting was attended by representatives of Georgia.

The SC welcomed the letter of intent by the Government of Serbia to apply for Convention's membership and encouraged Serbia to lodge such application as soon as possible in line with the Accession Guidelines.  Similarly, it encouraged Croatia, whose Government submitted a similar letter of intent back in 2011, to also submit a membership application.  Both Croatia and Serbia currently enjoy the status of "Applicant States".

One of the main points of discussion during the meeting was the Czech objection to Italy's accession, which was lodged in February 2012. The Czech Republic remains the only Contracting States (out of 19) to formally object to Italy's accession. The Standing Technical Group (STG), a Sub-Committee of the SC, has reviewed the "objective evidence" provided by the Czech Government and found that it was outside the scope of the Convention.  This was also endorsed by the representatives of all Contracting States with the exception of the Czech representatives.  As a next step, the Depositary will be consulted on how to further to proceed.

The SC discussed two Notes by the Secretariat: the first was on how to deal with States which were not recognised by some Member States and the second was on how to possibly improve the future operation of the Convention in the light of the weaknesses revealed by Italy's membership bid.  On the first Note, the SC reviewed the opinion of 5 Contracting States, which were received in advance of the meeting.  Considering that more States wished to take position, the consultation was extended by 6 months.  On the second Note, the SC agreed to start a consultation of Members on how to address issues such as unanimous consent for membership application, the interpretation of the Convention's requirements, etc.

Members agreed to reconvene in Geneva (Switzerland) on 27 March 2014.  They also bid farewell to Dr Mykola Nazymok (Head of the Ukrainian State Assay Office) who attended the SC meeting for the last time.

 


Serbia Letter of Intent to join the Convention


Geneva (6 August 2013): The Secretariat of the Precious Metals Convention has received a letter of intent for accession to the Convention by Serbia.  The original letter, signed by H.E. Mr Mladjan Dinkić, Minister of Finance and Economy of the Republic of Serbia, was received on 25 July 2013.

The next step for Serbia will be to submit an official membership application, which will be assessed in line with the Guidelines for Accession of the Standing Committee (SC).  In the meantime, Serbia enjoys the status of an Observer (i.e. Applicant State) and its representatives may attend all SC meetings.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva


Geneva (26 March 2013): The 72nd meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2013 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 52 officials representing 24 countries of which 17 Contracting States (Cyprus and Slovenia were not represented), 3 Applicant States (Croatia, Italy and Ukraine) and 4 non-Members (Mongolia, Romania, Russia and Singapore). It was the first time that the meeting was attended by representatives of the Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology.

The main point of discussion during the meeting was the Czech objection to Italy's accession, which was lodged in February 2012. The Czech Republic remains the only Contracting States (out of 19) to formally object to Italy's accession. The Convention's Depositary (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs), acting on behalf of all other Contracting States, has invited the Czech Government to provide evidence to substantiate its objection but the Czech Government has not replied yet. The SC also discussed whether the Czech objection should be considered receivable considering that it is not based on the Inspection Report, which was unanimously endorsed at the 69th SC meeting in Warsaw in October 2011. A compromise proposal as well as clarification on Article 12 of the Convention, dealing with the accession, was also discussed but no consensus was found. The SC has, agreed to investigate the possibility of bringing the dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. The objection by the Czech Government, which is a first in the Convention's 40-year long history, has provoked the most serious crisis of the Organisation. Due to the inability of the SC to find a solution to its accession, Italy has suspended its participation from the SC with immediate effect.

The SC endorsed new Guidelines on confidentiality and absence of conflict of interest and agreed to allow Assay Offices, which are authorised under the Convention, to delegate some technical competences to other authorised Assay Offices on a temporary basis. It discussed the definition of precious metals alloy and new rules on the marking of multimetal articles but returned the two related papers to the Standing Technical Group (STG), a Sub-Committee established under the Standing Committee, for further discussion. The SC also reviewed a paper by the Swiss Assay Office to create a new Common Control Mark. A survey will be carried out in order to find out whether the proposal is supported by other Assay Offices. A paper by Denmark on XRF testing was also discussed and the STG has been invited to consider the Danish proposals.

The SC reviewed the number of precious metals articles marked with the Convention's Common Control Mark (CCM): 5,336,714 articles were marked with the CCM in 2012; this is 17.7% down in comparison with 2011.

The SC bid farewell to Mr Paul Marti (Head of the Swiss Assay Office) who attended the SC meeting for the last time.

Members agreed to reconvene in Lisbon (Portugal) on 16 September 2013 and then in Geneva (Switzerland) on 27 March 2014.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva


Geneva (29 November 2012): The 71st meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 27 November 2012 under the chairmanship of Mr Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 59 officials representing 25 countries of which 18 Contracting States (Cyprus was not represented) 3 Applicant States (Croatia, Italy and Ukraine) and 4 non-Members (China, Montenegro, Russia and Serbia).

The SC renewed the chairmanship and re-elected the current Chairman for a period of 2 years (2013-2014).  It also elected - for the same period - a new First Deputy Chairman in the person of Mr Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office) as well as a new First Second Chairperson in the person of Ms Maria Magdalena Ulaczyk (Warsaw Assay Office).  The election was carried out by secrete ballot and majority voting.  It is the first time in the Convention's history that majority voting has been used (normally decisions are taken by consensus). 

One of the main points of discussion during the meeting was Italy's possible accession to the Convention.  The Convention's Depositary (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs) has consulted all Contracting States on whether to invite Italy to join the Convention based on the positive assessment of its application made by a Team of Experts, which was endorsed by the SC at the 69th SC meeting in Warsaw.  Following the consultation period, which expired in early May 2012, three Contracting States objected to Italy's accession.  Two of them (Hungary and the Slovak Republic) lifted their objections in time for the SC meeting, leaving the Czech Republic as the only Contracting State (out of 19) which is against Italy's accession.  The SC noted that the Czech Republic had not provided objective evidence to its objection to Italy's accession despite a request by the Depositary, made in June 2012, that such evidence be submitted.  The SC decided to ask the Depositary to send a reminder to the Czech Government and invite the latter to reply by the end of the year.  It is the first time in the Convention's history that a Contracting State objects to the accession of another State.

During the meeting, Serbia expressed its intention to submit a membership application to the Convention.  This was welcome by the SC. 

The SC reviewed a draft paper, prepared by the Secretariat, on changing the classification of documents and introducing some basic rules of confidentiality.  It also discussed another draft paper on whether entities and States, which were not recognised by all Contracting States, could attend SC meetings and possibly apply for Convention membership 

The SC agreed that a revision of the Guidelines on the Convention's Round Robin on Testing (the Round Robin is an interlaboratory proficiency testing scheme on precious metals), which had been prepared by the Convention's Standing Technical Group (STG), should be first discussed by the International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).  The Round Robins are run jointly by the Convention and the IAAO.  The aim of the revision is to run the Round Robins in a professional way.  This will be achieved by mandating the STG to organise Round Robins on a yearly basis as well as by using (i) the services of the Convention's Secretariat for the administration of the Round Robins, (ii) a reputable refiner which will provide homogenous samples and (iii) a professional statistician in order to assess the performance scores.  The revision will also make it possible to open certain Round Robins e.g. on platinum or palladium to refiners and bullion dealers.

The SC also agreed that Round Robins on Marking Techniques should be run on a regular basis and that general rules should be drafted in order to ensure an acceptable standard of quality - in particular for laser marking.

The SC bid farewell to Ms Dalia Yarom (Israeli Assay Office) who attended the SC meeting for the last time.  Ms Yarom is also the IAAO Chairperson.

Members agreed to reconvene in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2013 and - subject to confirmation - in Lisbon (Portugal) on 16 September 2013.

 


New Survey on Multimetal Articles


Geneva (20 November 2012): A new survey on multimetal articles in the 19 Convention's Contracting States has been published on the web site (see "Documents and Statistics").

According to the survey, multimetal articles are defined by law in 14 Contracting States while in 5 Contracting States (Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal) multimetal articles are not legally defined.  Ireland and Portugal do not allow such articles, even with the CCM, to be put on their markets while Latvia and Lithuania authorised such articles on their markets, provided that they are labelled.

For more information, see survey at link below.

> Site web
 


New Survey on Standards of Finenesses and Weight Exemptions


Geneva (20 November 2012): A new survey on standards of finenesses and CCM finenesses, which are legally recognised in the 19 Convention's Contracting States, has been published on the web site (see "Documents and Statistics").

According to the survey, 5 CCM finenesses are legal standards of fineness in all Contracting States: Pt 950, Au 750, Au 585, Ag 925 and Ag 800.  14 Contracting States have weight exemptions while 5 Contracting States have no such exemptions.  NB: There are no weight exemptions under the Convention.

For more information, see survey at link below.

> Site web
 


Next Standing Committee in Geneva


Geneva (19 November 2012): Contrary to what was agreed at the last meeting, the next Standing Committee meeting will take place in Geneva on 27 November 2012 (rather than Rome, as initially foreseen).

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva


Geneva (29 April 2012): The 70th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 26 March 2012 under the chairmanship of Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 57 officials representing 24 countries of which 18 Contracting States, 3 Applicant States (Croatia, Italy and Ukraine) and 3 non-Members (Bahrain, Romania, and Russia).

Following the revision of the election procedure at its last meeting, the SC elected a new Second Deputy Chairperson in the person of Mr Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office). 

The SC discussed the invitation to accede to the Convention to Italy which was circulated to all Contracting States by the Convention's Depositary (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs).  The 4-month consultation period, which was still running, would end in early May. The SC noted that following a change of Government in Croatia a new Head had been appointed at the Croatian State Office for Metrology. The application form and questionnaire would be submitted later in the year. To speed up the ratification process by the Ukraine the Chairman had written to the Ukrainian Prime Minister. 

The SC adopted a new glossary on commonly used terms as well as a revised a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) for analytical samples. Both the new glossary and the revised SOP would be incorporated into the SC's Compilation of Acts. The SC also adopted an amendment to the Compilation of Technical Decisions. Both the amended Compilation of Acts and the amended Compilation of Technical Decisions would enter into force on 1st July 2012.

The SC reviewed the operation of the Convention and adopted a proposal to revise the Guidelines on the Convention's Round Robin on testing (the Round Robin is an interlaboratory proficiency testing scheme on precious metals) and introduced more detailed rules regarding non-accredited Assay Offices, which would exceed the permissible limits under the Round Robin (RR). The latter is run jointly with the International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).

The SC discussed two surveys: the first on legal standards and weight exemptions; and the second on multimetal articles (both to be posted on the web site).  It reviewed the number of precious metals articles marked with the Convention's Common Control Mark (CCM): 6,490,374 articles were marked with the CCM in 2011; this was down by 6.6% in comparison with 2010.  

The SC was given a presentation on the latest Round Robins on Marking Techniques (laser marking and press-marking).  

Subject to confirmation, Members agreed to reconvene in Rome (Italy) on 20 September 2012. 

 


Standing Committee recommends inviting Italy

Geneva (26 September 2011): The Standing Committee, meeting in Warsaw (Poland) on 19 September 2011, recommended to the Contracting States to invite Italy to accede to the Convention.  The recommendation is based on the report by the Inspection Team, which visited Italy from 5 to 9 September 2011.  The purpose of the visit was to ensure that the arrangements made by Italy complied with the conditions of the Convention and its Annexes.  The Depositary of the Convention (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs) will now write to all Contracting States and asked them whether they object to the invitation.  If there are no objections within a period of 4 months, Italy will then be officially invited to accede to the Convention.  The accession will become effective once Italy has ratified the Convention. 

 


Croatia to apply

Geneva (26 September 2011): The Director of the Croatian State Office for Metrology, Dr. Krešimir Buntac, sent on 15 March 2011 a letter in which the Republic of Croatia indicates its willingness to apply for membership and to submit an application.  The letter has been duly authorised by Ms. Jadranka Kosor, Prime Minister of Croatia.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Warsaw

Geneva (26 September 2011): The 69th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Warsaw (Poland) on 19 September 2011 under the chairmanship of Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 56 officials representing 26 countries of which all 19 Contracting States, 2 Applicant States (Italy and Ukraine) and 5 non-Members (Bosnia-Herzegovina, China, Moldova, Romania, and Singapore).

The SC recommended to the Contracting States to invite Italy to accede to the Convention (see separate news above).  It also noted with satisfaction that Croatia officially declared its willingness to apply for membership (see separate news above). 

The SC took note that the amended Convention's Annexes entered into force on 3 August 2011 (see separate news below).  

The SC revised the election procedure of the Chairperson and its two Deputies.  The revised election procedure will enter into force on 1st January 2012 and a new Second Deputy Chairperson will be elected at the next meeting.  The SC also reviewed a revised proposal by the Standing Technical Group (STG) on a glossary, which comprises now around 85 commonly used terms.  The STG will finalise the Glossary at its next meeting on 16 January 2012.

The SC reviewed the operation of the Convention and discussed a proposal by the STG to require accreditation from Assay Offices, which exceed the permissible limits under the Convention's Round Robin (interlaboratory proficiency testing scheme on precious metals).  It also reviewed statistics on the number of articles marked with the CCM, which still show a depressed market, and discussed the possibility of introducing lower finenesses, as the price of precious metals is continuously increasing.  It supported a proposal by the Secretariat to make information on the Contracting States' legal finenesses available on the Convention's web site.

The SC noted that all Assay Offices had participated in the latest Round Robin on gold, palladium and silver, which was run jointly with The International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).  It also agreed to run another Round Robin on Marking Technique - this time on press marking and marking by laser.  The results will be discussed at the next meeting.

Members agreed to reconvene in Geneva (Switzerland) on 26 March 2012.  Subject to confirmation, the autumn 2012 meeting will be held in Italy.

 


Amended Annexes enter into force

Stockholm (3 August 2011): The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, acting as Depositary government for the Precious Metals Convention, received today an official communication from the Austrian Government indicating that the Austrian Parliament successfully approved the proposed amendment of Annexes I and II. The Annexes thus enter into force today. For more information, see also press release below.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv (11 October 2010): The 67th meeting of the Standing Committee took place in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 11 October 2010. It was the first time that the Convention was meeting outside Europe. The meeting was hosted by the Standards Institution of Israel (SII) and attended by around 50 officials representing 22 countries of which 18 Contracting States and 4 other States (Croatia, Italy, Moldova, and the Ukraine).

The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). Mr. Le Bas was re-elected Chairman for a period of two years. Ing. Martin Novotny (Czech Republic) was elected Deputy Chairman for the same period.

The Committee took note that Italy would submit a membership application shortly. It also noted that following the entry into force of the 2001 Amendment to the Convention, the first palladium articles were struck with the Common Control Mark (CCM). According to a survey, palladium is considered a precious metal in 10 out of 19 Contracting States. The Committee also noted that the Depositary was in the course of registering the Convention, as modified by the 2001 Amendment, with the UN Secretariat in line with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

The Committee finalised a proposal on the revision of the Convention's Annexes. Under the proposal, Assay Offices, authorised under the Convention, will be able to mark multimetal articles with the CCM.  Moreover, they will have the possibility in some cases to apply only 3 instead of 4 minimum marks.  The proposed revision will be officially communicated to all Contracting States by the Convention's Depositary, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affaires. 

The Committee mandated the Standing Technical Committee (STG), a sub-committee established under the Convention, to review a proposal to revise technical decisions agreed by the Committee.  The revised decisions should enter into force at the same time as the revised Convention's Annexes. 

The Committee also reviewed statistics on the number of articles marked with the CCM as well as the operation of the Convention in general (e.g. consultations between Assay Offices, fake CCM, etc.). It agreed to conduct a Round Robin on Marking Technique and mandated the STG to elaborate guidelines on the independence of Assay Offices.

Members agreed to reconvene in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2011.  Poland generously offered to host the autumn meeting on 19 September 2011.

The meeting was followed by a meeting of The International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).

 


Decisions adopted by the SC in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv (11 October 2010): At its 67th meeting, the Standing Committee:

  1. agreed on a proposal to amend the Convention's Annexes (PMC/W 2/2000 (Rev. 2)) as well as on a revision of the Compilation of Acts (PMC/W 1/2001 (Rev. 11));
  2. revised the Explanatory Notes to the Convention (PMC/W 10/2009 (Rev. 1));
  3. nominated an Inspection Team (consisting of representatives from Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland and the Secretariat) for the on-site assessment of Italy;
  4. mandated the Standing Technical Group to: (i) review the proposal to amend the Technical Decisions (PMC/W 2/2001 (Draft 7)); (ii) revise definitions contained in the Compilation of Acts in co-operation with the original authors; (iii) draft Guidelines on the Independence of Authorised Assay Offices;
  5. agreed to conduct a Round Robin on Marking Techniques;
  6. re-elected Mr. Ronald Le Bas (Ireland) as Chairman and elected Ing. Martin Novotny (Czech Republic) as Deputy Chairman - both for a period of two years;
  7. decided to reconvene in Geneva on 21 March 2011 and in Poland on 19 September 2011.
 


Entry into force of amended Annexes

Geneva (19 May 2011): The Annexes to the Precious Metal Convention have been amended and will enter into force once Austria has ratified them.  The main changes are the following: to adapt to technological changes, the desires of consumers and the needs of markets, the marking of multimetal articles will be possible under the Convention.  These articles, which are made partly of precious metals and partly of base metals (e.g. gold and stainless steel watches), can be found on all markets.  To facilitate their trade, they can be marked with the Convention "Common Control Mark" (CCM) as soon as Austria has ratified the Annexes.  The marking rules under the Convention have also been slightly amended and foresee the possibility of exceptions to the rule stipulating that CCM articles must bear 4 marks: the fineness mark, the responsibility mark, the Assay Office mark and the CCM.  In certain limited circumstances Assay Offices may drop the fineness mark.  The circumstances have been defined by the Standing Committee in the "Compilation of decisions on technical matters", which has also been amended and which will enter into force at the same time as the amended Annexes.  The conditions are the following: (i) where there is insufficient space on an article to apply all four marks; and (ii) where there is a risk of damage to an article by applying all four marks.  The fineness mark can only be dropped if the fineness indication, contained in the CCM, is legible (i.e. readable with a 10x magnifying glass).  The amended Annexes and the amended Compilation of Technical Decisions are available on the web page "Documents & Statistics" (http://www.hallmarkingconvention.org/documents.php)

 


Italy applies for membership

Geneva (24 March 2011): The Italian Ministry for Economic Development has submitted an official membership application to the Secretariat of the Precious Metals Convention. Italy is now officially an Applicant State to the Convention and enjoys the status of an Observer. An Inspection Team, set up by the Standing Committee, will visit Italy in the coming months. The purpose of the visit is to ensure that Italy can apply the Convention's requirements. The Team's report will be submitted to the Standing Committee at its next meeting in Warsaw (Poland) on 19 September 2011.

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva

Geneva (24 March 2011): The 68th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) took place in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2011 under the chairmanship of Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office). The meeting was attended by 57 officials representing 25 countries of which all 19 Contracting States, 2 Applicant States (Italy and Ukraine) and 4 other States (Croatia, Iceland, India, and Macedonia).

Italy officially submitted a membership application and invited an Inspection Team, set up by the SC, to visit Italy in the coming months. The Team, led by the SC's Chairman, comprises experts from the Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland and the Secretariat. Both Croatia and India indicated that they were actively working on a membership application with the backing of their respective governments.

The SC adopted a revision of the Compilation of Technical Decisions, which will enter into force on 3 June 2011, i.e. at the same as the amended Convention's Annexes. From this date on, Assay Offices, authorised under the Convention, will be able to mark multimetal articles with the CCM.  Moreover, they will have the possibility not to apply the fineness mark for small and fragile articles (the CCM already contains a fineness indication).   

The SC agreed on a further amendment of the Compilation of Acts in order to include Explanatory Notes to the Convention and Guidelines on the Assessment Requirements for authorised, independent Assay Offices. The SC also agreed in principle on a revision of the election procedure of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman. A formal proposal will be discussed at the next meeting.  The SC also mandated the Standing Technical Group to review the Glossary contained in the Compilation of Acts.

The SC reviewed statistics on the number of articles marked with the CCM as well as the operation of the Convention in general (e.g. consultations between Assay Offices, fake CCM, etc.).  It discussed a Dutch proposal to introduce compulsory accreditation to ISO 17025 for authorised Assay Offices.  Although 18 out of 23 Assay Offices are already accredited, Members preferred to consider other tools in order to monitor non-accredited Assay Offices.  These tools will be discussed at the next SC meeting.

The SC noted the various investigations and corrective actions taken by Assay Offices following last year's Round Robin (inter-laboratory proficiency testing scheme) on platinum, gold and silver.  It also discussed two practical cases on "Assaying and Marking Practices".  The Chairman of the Standing Technical Group (STG), Mr. Ashley Carson (Sheffield Assay Office), gave an outstanding presentation on the recently conducted Round Robin on Marking Technique, which attracted much attention. The SC re-elected all Members of the Standing Technical Group for another term of two years.

At the invitation of Poland, Members agreed to reconvene in Warsaw on 19 September 2011.  The spring 2012 meeting will be held in Geneva on 26 March 2012.

The SC meeting was followed by a meeting of The International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).

 


Decisions on Technical Matters adopted by SC

Geneva (28 May 2010): Following the entry into force of the amended Convention on 27 February 2010, the Standing Committee (SC) is now empowered to take "decisions on technical matters" (Article 10, paragraph 2 of the Convention). At the last SC meeting in Zurich on 13 April 2010, the SC made use of this new power and adopted in principle a number of "technical decisions" (previously referred to as "Recommendations" or "Schedules"). The compilation of all these technical decisions enters (entered) into force on 1 June 2010. It is available on the link below.

> Site web
 


Standing Committee Meeting in Zurich

Zurich (14 April 2010): The 66th meeting of the Standing Committee, set up under the Hallmarking Convention, too place in Zurich (Switzerland) on 13 April 2010. The meeting was hosted by the Swiss Assay Office and chaired by Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office), assisted by Mr. Bjarne Bang Christensen (Denmark), Deputy Chairman.

The meeting was attended by 63 officials representing 30 countries of which 18 Contracting States to the Convention (Cyprus was not represented), 1 Applicant State (the Ukraine) as well as 11 guests (a record number) coming from Bahrain, Bosnia-Herzegovina (first-time attendance), Bulgaria (first-time attendance), China, Croatia, Iceland, Italy, Mauritius (first-time attendance), Romania, Serbia and South Africa (first-time attendance). Croatia, Italy and Serbia reported that they were currently consulting their respective governments on the possibility to lodge a membership application.

The Committee took note that the 2001 Amendment to the Convention had entered into force on 27 February 2010 following the successful ratification by Lithuania, the last of the 19 Contracting States to ratify the Amendment. The latter introduces amongst other matters palladium as a precious metal under the Convention (the new palladium Common Control Mark [CCM] was notified to the World Intellectual Property Organisation [WIPO]). The amendment also entitles the Standing Committee to adopt decisions on technical matter. Based on the amended Article 10(2) of the Convention, the Committee adopted a compilation of technical recommendations (formerly known as "Schedules") as "decisions on technical matter".

The Committee also agreed in principle on a revision of the Convention's Annexes, which will have to be submitted to the consent of all Contracting States. Denmark expressed reservations on one particular point of the revision (the combined CCM-fineness mark), where a compromise text must first be agreed before the proposed revision is officially communicated to all Contracting States by the Convention's Depositary, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affaires. 

As the Convention's Annexes define the main technical principles under the Convention, the related compilation of technical decisions was also revised and agreed upon in principle. The revised decisions will enter into force at a later stage together with the revised Convention's Annexes.

These two revisions will allow the hallmarking of multimetal articles under the Convention. They will also introduce the possibility to combine the CCM & fineness marks (subject to conditions), a minimum size for all CCM, solder for palladium, etc.

The Committee also reviewed statistics on the number of articles marked with the CCM as well as the operation of the Convention in general (e.g. consultations between Assay Offices, fake CCM, etc.). Members also agreed on a checklist of requirements, which an independent Assay Office, authorised under the Convention, must fulfil as well as on a list of essential analytical and marking equipment. The Committee mandated the Standing Technical Group, a Sub-Committee under the Convention, to elaborate good practices for XRF marking.

Members agreed to reconvene in Tel Aviv (Israel) on 11 October 2010 and then in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 March 2011.

The meeting was followed by a meeting of The International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).

 


Italy to apply for membership

Geneva (3 August 2010): The Director General of Industrial Policy and Economic Competitiveness at Italy's Ministry of Economic Development has formally declared that Italy intended to accede to the Hallmarking Convention. In his letter dated 15 July, Dr. Andrea Bianchi indicates that the complete membership application will be submitted in due time. The application may already be submitted at the next Standing Committee meeting in Tel Aviv on 11 October 2010.

 


Lithuanian Parliament ratifies 2001 Amendment

Vilnius (19 November 2009): The Lithuanian Parliament ratified today the 2001 Amendment to the Hallmarking Convention. Lithuania is the last of the 19 Contracting States to have ratified. Once the Lithuanian instruments of acceptance will have been deposited with the Convention's Depositary (the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs), the amended Convention will enter into force one months later. The amended Convention provides, inter alia, for the introduction of palladium and entitles the Standing Committee (the main decision-taking body under the Convention) to take binding decisions on technical matter.

 


Entry into force of amended Convention

Stockholm (28 January 2010): The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, acting as Depositary to the Hallmarking Convention, has announced that on 27 January 2010, the original Instrument of Acceptance of Lithuania was delivered to the MFA. Lithuania is the last Contracting State to ratify the 2001 Amendment to the Hallmarking Convention. Since all (19) Contracting States have ratified the 2001 Amendment, the Amendment will enter into force on 27 February 2010.

 


The information brochure has been updated

Geneva (13 September 2010): The background information brochure on the Hallmarking Convention has been updated and now includes the new palladium CCM marks. The brochure is available in English, French and German. It is available for free download at the following link:

http://www.hallmarkingconvention.org/documents.php

 


Dr Frank Bennett has died

Ipswich (6 October 2009): Dr. Frank W. Bennett, Chairman of the Standing Committee from 1990 to 1995, died today at the age of 81 years.

Dr. Bennett, who was Deputy Warden at the Assay Office London, first attended a Standing Committee meeting in October 1982 and served for 14 years as Member of the Standing Committee. During all these years, he greatly contributed to both hallmarking and the expansion of the Convention. He was instrumental in bringing the Czech Republic into the Convention in 1994 – only a few years after the Velvet Revolution and the collapse of the communist regime. All other Eastern European and Baltic countries (except Estonia) have since then joined the Convention.

The Chairman of the Standing Committee, Ronald Le Bas, attended the memorial service at Ipswich Crematorium on 23 October and represented the Convention. 

 


Standing Committee Meeting in Geneva

Geneva (22 September 2009): The 65th meeting of the Standing Committee, set up under the Hallmarking Convention, was held in Geneva (Switzerland) on 21 September 2009. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office), assisted by Mr. Bjarne Bang Christensen (Denmark), Deputy Chairman. The meeting was attended by 53 officials representing the Convention’s nineteen Contracting States, two Applicants State (Sri Lanka and Ukraine) as well as guests from CIBJO - the World Jewellery Confederation, Croatia, and Serbia.

It was the first time that the World Jewellery Confederation (www.cibjo.org), represented by its President, Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri, attended a meeting. Dr. Cavalieri made several proposals for closer co-operation between CIBJO and the Convention - including the possibility of organising back-to-back meetings in the future.

The Croatian Metrology Institute informed the Committee that it would shortly request the Croatian Government to submit a membership application. The Sri Lankan Assay Office made a progress report on the various actions undertaken by Sri Lanka to comply with the Convention's requirements.

The Committee reviewed the ratification process of the 2001 Amendment to the Convention, which will - amongst other matters - recognise palladium as a precious metal. It noted that Lithuania, the last Contracting State to ratify the Amendment, had just started the ratification process. The Lithuanian Parliament is expected to complete the ratification by November. An entry into force of the Amendment is thus expected by early 2010.

Members discussed a number of technical matters such as the introduction of multimetal articles, permissible platings (including base metal intermediate layers), guidelines on offsite marking, and whether to accept partial hallmarks. Most of these matters were referred back to the Standing Technical Group (the STG is a Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee). The latter should meet in February 2010.

The Committee also reviewed the results of the last two Round Robins on gold and silver (interlaboratory testing scheme on precious metals). The results of the chemical analyses were considered to be good to very good.

Members agreed to reconvene in Zurich (Switzerland) on 13 April 2010.

The meeting was followed by a meeting of The International Association of Assay Offices (www.theiaao.com).

 


Finland & Netherlands ratify 2001 amendment

Geneva (10 June 2009): The 2001 Amendment to the Convention has been ratified by Finland (7 May) and the Netherlands (9 June), thus increasing the number of Contracting States having ratified the Amendment to 18. The Amendment, which considerably modernises the Convention and introduces palladium as a new precious metal, will enter into force once it has been ratified by all Contracting States. There is only one State left, which still needs to ratify: it is Lithuania.

 


Slovenia joins the Hallmarking Convention

Stockholm (16 January 2009): The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, acting as the Convention's Depositary, has officially notified all Contracting States that Slovenia will become the Hallmarking Convention's 19th Contracting State on 5 March 2009. Slovenia successfully deposited its instrument of ratification with the Depositary on 5 December 2008. The Parliament of Slovenia ratified on 15 July 2008 the Hallmarking Convention as well as the 2001 Amendment to the Convention.

 


The Convention meets in Kiev

Kiev (22 Sept 2008): The 63rd meeting of the Standing Committee, set up under the Hallmarking Convention, took place in Kiev (Ukraine) on 22 September 2008. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office) and attended by 58 officials representing the Convention's eighteen Contracting States, three Applicant States (Slovenia, Sri Lanka & Ukraine) as well as guests from Italy, Moldova (first-time attendance), Romania, Russia (last attendance: 1994), and Spain.

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2008 Spring Meeting in London

London (15 April 2008): The 62nd meeting of the Standing Committee, set up under the Hallmarking Convention, was held at Goldsmiths' Hall on 14 April 2008. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ronald W.A. Le Bas (Irish Assay Office) and attended by 67 officials representing the Convention's eighteen Contracting States, three Applicant States (Slovenia, Sri Lanka & Ukraine) as well as a number of guests from China, Estonia, Italy, Romania, Singapore (first-time attendance), and Spain.

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