In 2016, Solidaridad’s gold team was proud of their achievements in mining communities as well as highlights at the international level.
Solidaridad accelerated the Going for Gold programme: a five-year programme in collaboration with SIMAVI and Healthy Entrepreneurs to economically and socially empower women in mining communities. Solidaridad identified new mines to include in its Going for Gold programme with the goal of supporting 29 new mines in Tanzania and Ghana to achieve best practices by 2020. This will double the size of Solidaridad’s support for small-scale miners.
Solidaridad produced a 20-minute film about its innovative partnership with industrial mining company Minera Yanaquihua in Peru. The company achieved certification from the Responsible Jewellery Council and also worked with Solidaridad to incorporate small miners from nearby communities into its core business model, rather than moving them off the land. Solidaridad was pleased to hear reports that the film was being used by large mining companies and roundtables to introduce new thinking about development around industrial mines.
Also in Peru, Solidaridad and its CSO partner Red Social capped the four-year Oro Justo (Fair Gold) project funded by the European Union. The project delivered over 300 trainings and reached 5,227 beneficiaries, including men and women in mining communities and local government officials. Two small-scale companies are expected to achieve certification in 2017 as a result, and there is broader interest from mining federations in Peru to work with Solidaridad on policy changes that can speed up formalization and responsible operation in Peru. There have already been indications that Solidaridad’s work is contributing to newly drafted legal frameworks.
Regional Commodity Programmes
East & Central Africa
The first mine in Africa to reach Fairtrade certification, Syanyonja Artisan Miners' Alliance (SAMA) in Uganda, was a partner of a Solidaridad partnership with Fairtrade Foundation in East Africa.
In May, the new European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) was launched. The EPRM is co-founded by Solidaridad and brings together industry, governments and CSOs with the goals of increasing the volume of responsible produced minerals, supporting local development, and promoting dialogue and learning.
Solidaridad expanded its policy work into Bolivia by establishing policy dialogues with federations of small-scale miners and the government. Current policies in Bolivia prevent the broader uptake of responsible practices, so these dialogues are urgently needed. They will have a special focus on formalization and gender. Solidaridad is also developing the PIM online platform for information exchange about small-scale mining in the Andes region, with the near-term goal of including local legislation for Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Solidaridad promoted the adoption of sustainable mining practices by introducing fair mining standards to artisanal small-scale mines. Programmes were designed to improve the livelihoods of small-scale artisanal miners and their communities. Additionally, Solidaridad worked with miners to adopt occupational health and safety standards. Through various partnerships, interventions moved women’s economic empowerment and access to reproductive health services forward. Solidaridad's enabling policy interventions contributed to national discussions on land management issues in the small-scale mining sector.
The demand for certified, traceable gold continued to outstrip the supply. In 2016, certified mines produced approximately 900 kilograms of gold. While this is a modest increase over 2015, this still represents less than 1% of annual gold production. Solidaridad has pledged that by 2020, at least 5 tonnes of gold per year will be generated through its global gold programme. For this to happen, Solidaridad will need to focus on new, innovative models to scale up its work over the coming years.
A development that is expected to contribute to this uptake is the European Union nearing agreement on a regulation that would require European gold buyers to trace and report on the origin of their gold. The anticipated law is expected to take effect in the coming years and will likely increase the demand for traceable, responsible gold.
It will be important for European gold buyers to participate in initiatives, such as EPRM and the Dutch gold dialogue, that support small miners to sell their responsibly-produced gold to the market. Otherwise, it may be challenging to meet these new legal requirements.
In May 2016, Solidaridad co-founded the new European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM). The EPRM brings together industry, governments and CSOs with the goals of increasing the volume of responsible produced minerals, supporting local development, and promoting dialogue and learning. The partnership is a necessary additional measure to the upcoming EU regulation and can prevent negative consequences that could otherwise result from new legislation, such as companies boycotting certain high-risk regions.
In addition, Solidaridad continued its work with the Dutch government and gold sector to jointly make agreements on responsible business conduct in international value chains. The participants work together to address challenges that companies cannot solve individually. Similar agreements for the textile and banking sector were signed in 2016. Solidaridad hopes to reach an agreement for the gold sector in 2017 that includes concrete targets for joint action.
Solidaridad also completed the year-long inception phase of its new Going for Gold programme, along with partners Simavi and Healthy Entrepreneurs. This five-year project, funded by the Dutch government, aimed to empower women in mining communities in Ghana and Tanzania by working with 29 new small-scale mines to provide better opportunities for women.
Simavi will work in the surrounding communities to improve health and sanitation. Healthy Entrepreneurs will enable women to start their own businesses selling high-quality, low-cost health products and increasing awareness of proper health practices. This partnership is important because women typically experience the biggest negative impacts from mining while being denied equal access to the benefits.
Mines learn good skills through Solidaridad’s training programme but without access to appropriate credit, their ability to continually improve their practices will be slow. Typical financial institutions, even those set up to work with smallholders, view artisanal and small gold mining as especially risky. Solidaridad is working with financial institutions to see opportunity in the small-scale mining sector and to show that the sector is actually no more risky than farming, which brings the uncertainties of weather and pests.
Solidaridad has co-sponsored a dialogue with Dutch financial institutions to explore pathways for greater impact investment in the sector. Impact investors offer credit at favourable rates and seek both a financial return as well as an environmental and social return, making them a good match with Solidaridad’s work.
Another challenge is services that miners need to improve their practices, such as mercury-free processing equipment and advice on good financial management, are not accessible in most small-scale mining communities. CSOs like Solidaridad could continue to offer these services on a grants basis, but that does not lead to a long-lasting, viable services sector.
For this reason, Solidaridad’s global gold programme also laid the groundwork for testing new models of supporting not only good practices at small-scale mines but also a robust services sector run by local entrepreneurs offering products tailored to the needs of small-scale miners. It also includes exporters, who can help link responsible miners with the growing demand for responsible, traceable gold in Europe and around the world.