Living Room Session: A Continuous FightMay 20, 2020
A Continuous Fight: Responsible Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold
Thank you for joining us in our most recent Living Room Session. We appreciate all of you and are here to support you however we can during this time. Please feel free to send us your questions, ideas and topics you want to discuss, or guests you’d love to hear from.
“Real mining wealth comes when we know that
we are part of a sustainable responsible economy.”
GENERAL MANAGER OF GUALCONDA
“We assumed the challenge of social responsibility and sustainability
over time with the development of our communities. We want to give our collaborators the level of life they deserve. As an organization, we want to be at the forefront within the legal framework.
RONY MOLINA ZUÑIGA,
PRESIDENT OF CECOMIP
- Artisanal and small-scale (ASM) gold mining is extremely difficult work - both physically and in regards to formalization. The circumstances for ASM gold miners vary across countries and regions, though most face challenges to formalize that include security risks, dangerous and complex lines to trade, irregular work, corruption, organized crime, and lack of access to necessary support such as training and legal assistance.
- Formal trade routes are paralyzed due to COVID-19. An often overlooked challenge of formalization is the way in which mining cooperatives learn about, implement, and maintain formal commercialization and export routes. In light of COVID, transportation logistics and costs are much higher than usual, compounding the difficulty to maintain responsible, legal trade channels.
- Speculation of gold has increased during the pandemic. With formal trade shuttered, miners are selling their gold to illegal and informal buyers for significantly lower prices - up to 50% below market price in some cases. This is because many miners have an immediate need to earn in order to support themselves and their families. The more vulnerable miners are, the more susceptible they are to selling gold informally and at lower prices. Most do not have the capacity or convenience of “holding on” to their gold until prices recover.
- Achieving progress in responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining requires true determination and leadership on behalf of mining cooperatives. It is a continuous fight. Many of the source countries’ laws and norms work against the efforts of responsible gold mining cooperatives. Mining cooperatives like CECOMIP and COODMILLA show they can meet standards, serving as role models for other mining operations. With hardly any support from the government, miners must rely on each other and organizations, such as the Alliance for Responsible Mining, to assist with formalization efforts.
- It is more important than ever that the jewelry industry supports responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining efforts as hard-earned progress and the potential to advance in the future are now at risk. The Alliance for Responsible Mining asks the jewelry industry to “be inclusive” of artisanal and small scale gold mining through committing even just a small percentage of their annual supply to sourcing from responsible ASM sources.
Thank You to Our Guests!
Rony is the President of the CECOMIP mining cooperative in Puno, Peru. His professional career has been linked to the mining sector, especially in small-scale artisanal mining, as well as more than 4 years of experience working with exploration and entrepreneurship management. Rony holds a degree in Administration and International Business. He is a Mining Technician and currently works leading the direction of a group of mining cooperatives while pursuing an international diploma in Management of Mining Companies at the School of Business Administration-ESAN. Rony is dedicated to a disciplined, analytical approach centered on an attitude of change, teamwork, and innovation.
Rolberto is both a miner and an activist. He is the General Manager of Gualconda and the current legal representative of the Asociación Agrominera de los Andes “Fortaleza.” For more than a decade, Rolberto has been leading community processes with associations of displaced people to advocate politically and conduct community projects. In 2006, Rolberto convened an initial group of ten people, all in condition of forced displacement, forming the Agromining Association of Los Andes called “Fortaleza” (meaning ‘strength’) to run the mining operations at the Gualconda mine. In 2014, the cooperative began working with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), with which they immediately began working on a holistic improvement plan that includes environmental, social, technical, economic and labor issues, among others.
In 2017, after four decades of using mercury, the miners at Gualconda fully transitioned their gold ore processing away from mercury. In 2019, Rolberto and a group of individuals from the jewelry industry initiated Better Without Mercury - a project to completely remediate the original processing site, including removing contaminated soil from water sources, storing it in a secured holding area, and finally, overlaying the land with several feet of soil seeded with native plants, which will eventually become a destination site for visitors.
Conny Havel is Head of Supply Chains and Markets at the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), a Colombian non-profit organization that works with the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector worldwide in improving its legal, technical, organizational, social and environmental practices. ARM is the developer of the Fairmined initiative and led the development of the CRAFT Code, standards that aim to facilitate more responsible gold supply chains. Within her role, Conny promotes the gold industry’s engagement with responsible ASM and connects responsible miners with responsible businesses. She assists companies in the jewelry and coin sector in developing fair and responsible gold products to create positive impact in mining communities in Latin America, Africa and Mongolia, while responding to growing consumer expectations about the origin of their products.
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