Burning amalgam while taking into account safety measures. Riberalta, Peru 2013. Photograph by M. de Theije
Between 2006 and 2013, Alliance for Responsible Mining and Fairtrade International (FLO) worked together to develop the Fairtrade & Fairmined standard and create market access for gold products that support the social, environmental and economic development of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) communities. The standard was developed and tested over a 3-year period, involving extensive consultation and testing at 9 pilot sites. In 2010 the first mining company was certified and in February 2011 the first ever Fairtrade & Fairmined gold was launched and sold in the UK.
In April 2013 the formal partnership between ARM and Fairtrade International ended, and the standards and label were separated. ARM is now continuing its work with the FAIRMINED standard independently.
Solidaridad, partner of GOMIAM, is one of the organizations who introduced the Fairtrade and Fairmined gold standard. Local partners of Solidaridad have been training small-scale mining communities in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, and since 2012 also in Ghana, helping them to legalize their activities, form associations and build sustainable livelihoods. This includes more efficient production, zero release of toxics like mercury, and safe working practices.
Certification gives access to new markets offering fair prices, allowing them to invest in the future. However, as an Impact Assessment conducted by GOMIAM researchers shows, models such as the Fairmined initiative, that may be supported by the international development community, must have a business model that enables them to survive in the long run.