Cartier Philanthropy - Improving extraction practices at gold mining sites

Improving extraction practices at gold mining sites

Completed

Gold mining has always attracted socially and economically marginalised communities seeking to escape poverty and unemployment. Artisanal and small-scale miners often work often in very difficult conditions, using damaging environmental practices, such as processing gold ore with mercury in primitive mills, and cyanide in unlined pits. From 2013 to 2017, Solidaridad worked with two small and medium-scales mines in Ghana and Peru, helping them apply for certification by the Responsible Jewellery Council or Fairmined. It also engaged with surrounding artisanal and small-scale miners, empowering them to achieve better health conditions, increased production and reduced use of mercury.

Duration
2013-2017
Focus area
Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems
country
Ghana Peru
partner
Solidaridad

Results achieved

Gold mining has always attracted socially and economically marginalised communities seeking to escape poverty and unemployment. Artisanal and small-scale miners often work in very difficult conditions, using damaging environmental practices, such as processing gold ore with mercury in primitive mills, and cyanide in unlined pits.

From 2013 to 2017, Solidaridad worked with two small and medium-scales mines in Ghana and Peru, helping them apply for certification by the Responsible Jewellery Council or Fairmined. It also engaged with surrounding artisanal and small-scale miners. This support empowered them to achieve better health conditions, increased production and reduced use of mercury, which fell from 38% to zero among artisanal and small-scale miners' associations in both Peru and Ghana.

  • In Peru:

Solidaridad has engaged with the medium-scale mine “Minera Yanaquihua” to ensure the adoption of improved, more transparent and more accountable practices. The mine successfully obtained certification both by the International Cyanide Management Code and the Responsible Jewellery Council, making it the fourth mining company in the country to have achieved this  important milestone.

Over 1,000 artisanal and small-scale miners were assisted to reach formalisation agreements with the mine and complete their training, including in safety and environmental management.

  • In Ghana:

Solidaridad has engaged with the E. K. Agyeman Mining Group, a small-scale concession in the southern region, to build  its capacity to qualify as a “medium-scale mine”, which is necessary to achieve formal recognition under Ghanaian law. Solidaridad supported the mine to obtain mining equipment and set up control systems and certification schemes.

With Solidaridad’s support, around 240 medium- and small-scale miners in the surrounding areas applied for Fairmined certification and received training on mercury and ore optimisation, mineshaft construction, first aid, environmental management and ecosystem restoration.

Village committees were revived to ensure that local communities impacted by mining operations increased their access to potable water, sanitation facilities and health care.
As a result, miners’ sick days dropped from an average of 7 to 3 days per year.