New Year, new success stories: two mining organizations obtain Fairmined Certification

23 de enero de 2017

2017 starts with ambitious projects and new success stories for the responsible artisanal and small-scale mining sector in Colombia:  La Fortaleza (Asociación Agro Minera de Los Andes) and COODMILLA LTD. (La Cooperativa Del Distrito Minero de La Llanada) obtain Fairmined Certification and the Iquira Cooperative recertifies for the second time.

Obtaining Fairmined Certification is a challenge for artisanal and small-scale mining organizations. It meant 8 years of work for “la Fortaleza”, a non-profit organization set up by families who were displaced due to the armed conflict. The organization mines gold from the Gualconda mine which is located in the Nariño department in Colombia.

The community’s efforts were rewarded on January 19, 2017, when La Fortaleza obtained Fairmined Certification. The mining organization has been working together with the Alliance for Responsible Mining since 2013 to improve their technical, social, organizational and environmental performance.

For Rolberto Alvarez, a member of la Fortaleza, the certification isn’t a result in itself but just the beginning of a long-term improvement plan which shall become a role model for other mining organizations, especially when it comes to mercury elimination through the implementation of clean technology.

“We do not stop here: we set ourselves objectives until 2018 which we will pursue; it is an ongoing process. The goal of the certification is to become a model for others, we hope that they will access and replicate our technology. Our model is shaped in a way so that people can access, observe and copy it.”.

This demonstrates how Fairmined motivates the miners to influence the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in their countries by being an example and showing ongoing commitment.  

We want to regain dignity for the artisanal and small-scale miners. The Fairmined Mark is very important to us, now it’s also our label, we worked hard to achieve it and we are proud of being able to finally use it”, says Rolberto Alvarez. 

A few kilometres from La Fortaleza lies the La Llanada municipality, where in 2015 five individual mines that belong to the COODMILLA Ltd. mining cooperative obtained Fairmined Certification. This required a considerable effort from each of these small mines, but was a possibility and door-opener for the rest of the cooperative members to work together towards certification as a group. The certified members demonstrated that it’s possible to comply with the requirements of the Fairmined Standard and that the certification is nationally and internationally renowned.  Motivated by the 5 pioneering mines, Coodmilla faced the challenge during the second semester of 2016 to align its mining activities with the Fairmined Standard to be able to apply for Fairmined Certification as a cooperative with a production system of 10 mines (the 5 pioneering mines plus 5 new enterprises). This way it’s not necessary for every single member to become certified and assume the certification costs. Instead, efforts, responsibilities and costs are shared between all the members. By becoming Fairmined certified Coodmilla committed itself to comply with strict legal, formalization, health and safety requirements for its 140 members. 

Furthermore than the certification of Fortaleza and COODMILLA, 2017 is also starting with recertification. Indeed, the Iquira Cooperative was successful in pursuing this objective and renewed its Fairmined Certification for the second time in January 2017, after being the first Colombian hard rock mine to obtain Fairmined Certification in 2014. Since then Iquira has been a pioneer and a model for other mining organizations within the Fairmined Certification System.

A further special note regarding this recertification is the way in which auditing was done: for the first time in Fairmined history, compliance of a mining organization was verified through a documental audit. This innovative (and much cheaper) approach was piloted with Iquira due to the mining organization’s excellent performance in its physical audits throughout the last years.

Iquira’s and COODMILLA’s efforts to achieve Fairmined Certification were awarded by being chosen to provide the gold for the production of the Nobel Peace Prize 2016 which was awarded to Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos. 

For more information about Coodmilla, click here

For more information about La Fortalea, click here

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