- Four Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) communities are the first to achieve the Fairmined certification in the Amazon after being trained by Pure Earth in mercury-free techniques and reforestation of areas degraded by mining, accompanied by ARM to meet the standard requirements.
- ASGM in the Amazon generates a considerable impact on the ecosystem. Therefore, this remarkable achievement not only demonstrates that it is possible to have responsible mining in these areas but also opens a path towards the establishment of the first Fairmined certified gold supply chain in the Amazon, thanks to the support of jewelry companies such as Brilliant Earth, who provide markets for responsible gold extracted without using mercury.
- Pure Earth, ARM and Brilliant Earth recognize the commitment and efforts of these mining communities in their progressive path towards sustainability.
October 2023. Madre de Dios, Peru. Four mining concessions of the Association of Artisanal Miners Tauro Fatima (AMATAF) pioneers in responsible mining, located in Madre de Dios (Peru), have achieved a significant milestone by being the first to obtain Fairmined certification in the Amazon. This was part of a project developed by Pure Earth and the Alliance for Responsible Mining, with the support of the global jewelry company Brilliant Earth.
The dedication and commitment of the miners from the four organizations, Linda 2, El Príncipe Azul 1, Fatima and Abel 3, have played a key role in achieving this goal. By working with Pure Earth, ARM and Brilliant Earth, the miners realized that it is possible to have a safe working environment and improve their mining practices. They were able to change the way gold is extracted and are looking to motivate other miners to do the same.
Given that ASGM is the largest source of mercury emissions globally and that around a quarter of the world’s gold comes from it, the certification with the Fairmined standard, created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, can have a positive impact with responsible mining practices on the environment and the mining communities that depend on these resources. The standard promotes the important role that responsible and conscientious mining plays in reducing and mitigating impacts to the Amazon forest and to the health of people worldwide who are exposed to mercury, which is transported and can contaminate bodies of water and fish that feed the general population.
The path towards the Fairmined certification
Pure Earth has worked with AMATAF since 2019 to create a ASGM model for the Amazon, based on eliminating the use of mercury, reforesting land affected by mining and generating incentives through the purchase of this gold mined without mercury by responsible buyers. Thus, thanks to the joint efforts of the miners and the technical team, these organizations became a benchmark for responsible ASGM in the Peruvian Amazon. It was at this moment that Pure Earth recommended ARM to work with these organizations, which lead to the “Green Mining” project, supported by Brilliant Earth, which was initiated with the objective of achieving Fairmined certification for the four mining organizations and continues to strengthen the responsible ASGM model developed by Pure Earth in the Amazon.
Responsible supply chains from the Peruvian Amazon
The achievement also highlights the critical importance of market support in promoting responsible mining initiatives. Consumer demand for ethically sourced materials and the backing of organizations like Brilliant Earth provide the impetus for ASGM communities to invest in sustainable practices.
According to Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA), 46.600 people depend on artisanal and small-scale mining in the department of Madre de Dios in Peru directly, reflecting a need to continue to focus on this region of the Amazon and join forces so that more miners carry out their activity in a responsible way.
One of the most significant outcomes of these mining organizations’ Fairmined certification is the creation of the first Fairmined supply chain in the Amazon. This achievement not only protects the environment but also contributes to the health and well-being of local communities that rely on the Amazon’s resources for their livelihoods. Since 2019, these organizations implemented a gravimetric table in their process of extracting gold free of mercury, in an effort to minimize their impacts to the environment.They also reforested 8.4 hectares, with the support of Pure Earth, and Linda 2 is implementing a nursery to continue this process.
This momentous achievement by these mining organizations represent a beacon of hope for the future of mining in forested areas and stands as a model for other ASGM communities worldwide. It showcases that, with dedication, collaboration, and a commitment to responsible practices, it is possible to mine sustainably while safeguarding the invaluable ecosystems of our planet.
The artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector is witnessing a remarkable transformation, driven by the adoption of robust standards systems. As the Fairmined certification has demonstrated, since 2014, 1,7 tons of certified gold have been sold to the international market, empowering more than 3.000 miners from certified mining organizations. In return for their commitment to responsible mining practices, mining organizations have received more than 7 million dollars of Fairmined premium. This substantial economic recognition not only validates their dedication but also serves as a compelling incentive for continued investments in technical enhancements, aligning their operations with the highest requirements of the Fairmined standard.
«These responsible miners are truly agents of change. Their commitment to learning how to mine without mercury, and to restore the areas of the rainforest damaged by mining is inspiring. Working in remote and difficult conditions, they have overcome challenges to transform the way gold is mined in the Amazon to protect their families as well as ours. They deserve our support.»
Richard Fuller, President Pure Earth
«The certification process was challenging, but not impossible. We were able to meet all the necessary requirements. Now, with Fairmined certification we can sell gold at a fair price. I invite other miners to follow AMATAF’s steps, it really is true that you can do it.»
Vilma Contreras, President AMATAF
«The Fairmined certification is a very important step for these communities. Now we need the commitment of the industry and other allies to give sustainability to this effort in order to protect such a vulnerable territory as the Amazon.»