‘Not everything that shines is gold’

    Susi Huisman
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    By Susi Huisman in the group Redactie EPRM 530 days ago
    ‘Not everything that shines is gold’

    Yajaira Mina is initially a bit shy to share her story with the group of participants that joined the National Advisory Committee in Bogota. On a regular day, Yajaira works in a local gold mining community with her female colleagues. Such a formal meeting in Bogota is a new experience for her but once she starts telling her story the participants immediately respect her courage and appreciate her contribution.

    Mineral selectors                                                                                                                                             In order to start a fruitful discussion on artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) in Colombia, Yajaira illustrates the reality on the ground. Yajaira explains the struggles she and her female colleagues are facing in getting their work recognized. Besides some crucial struggles, Yajaira also shares a positive development within their mining community. The women are now called “seleccionadoras de mineral” (women mineral selectors) instead of ‘chatarreras’ (waste-pickers). This is an essential step in dignifying their labour and getting access to formal supply chains and a fair gold price.

    Setting up an association
    A few days later, we meet Yajaira again but this time in her own territory in Suarez.  Together with her colleagues, Yajaira tells us about the changes after receiving support from the CAPAZ project. This project was set up by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), with financial support of the EPRM. By setting up the “Association of Women Mineral Selectors and Peacebuilders of the Municipality of Suárez”, it became possible to start the path for improving their practices progressively. This means that the women have learned about health and safety conditions, commercial skills and organizational aspects. The project supported the women in getting access to bank accounts, fiscal registers and gave them a permit to sell their gold in formal markets according to Colombian regulation.

    First CRAFT sale
    All these steps are necessary to conduct the first gold sale under the ‘CRAFT code’. The Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale miners engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT) helps expand trade between legitimate artisanal producers, refiners and other supply chain actors. Some of the women participated in the first gold sale using CRAFT. This is an extraordinary achievement taking into account the steps that these brave women have taken. It also means they received a better price for their gold, in comparison to the informal market prices they usually receive, which is a crucial step to build a better quality of life.

    Sustainable supply chain
    It was encouraging to hear that this pilot project received many attention from local miners who are motivated to also start improving their practices. EPRM hopes that the rules and regulations for artisanal and small scale mining to sell their gold formally, will be aligned with the realities on the ground and with the market needs. This way, with the support of EPRM through an organization working in the ground, the Alliance for Responsible Mining, we can jointly create a sustainable supply chain that supports responsible practices and improves the livelihoods of female mineworkers in and around mining communities.

    For more information on the second phase of the CAPAZ project, please follow our website or subscribe to the EPRM Newsletter. Also, you can find the latest developments on the website of ARM.