Comunidad Aurífera Relave S.A.
Aurelsa is located in the village of Relave, district of Pullo, province of Parinacochas, department of Ayacucho, Peru. In the mid-1980s Peru was troubled with economic hardship, internal violence and conflict. As a result, many Peruvian families and individuals were driven from their homes and into the Peruvian Atacama desert where they came together seeking refuge and the opportunity to establish a new life. In Relave, these citizens eventually settled as informal, artisanal and small-scale miners working the tailings left by previous large-scale international mining operations.
In the Peruvian desert where resources are scarce, mining became the primary livelihood for Relave. In 1986, the town formed the Association of Artisanal Miners of Relave, and began to establish their village. In 1993 the government officially recognized the community as a settlement annex, landmarking the beginning of Relave as a formal community and allowing them access to government assistance to improve their mining practices by engaging with the Ministry of Mines. Government recognition and support not only supported Relave’s economic welfare, but also allowed the town to lay the foundations for investment in its citizens by allowing them to build a school and offer other public services.
Aurelsa S.A. was founded on July 26, 1997 after the community was advised to form a company to facilitate access to mining titles. The whole community was invited to form the company, which resulted in 86 individuals investing their time and money to begin Aurelsa. Of the founding individuals, there were 78 men and eight women who collectively held mineral rights to over 1,000 hectares in the area.
Aurelsa and FAIRMINED
Aurelsa began to work with ARM in 2008, and became certified in the FAIRMINED system in May 2012. Entering the FAIRMINED system was an essential step for Aurelsa to expand their efforts and get their gold and silver to international markets. The premiums that Aurelsa has received have had a significant, positive impact on their communityAlong with the help of Peru´s regional support organization, Red Social. As part of their requirements to be certified in the Fairmined system Aurelsa designed an ambitious long-term development plan for their company operations and the sustainable development of Relave.
One of Aurelsa’s major investments from the FAIRMINED premiums was the construction and maintenance of local jewelry shops, where local women also find opportunities for work outside of the mines. Daily, many of the women of Relave have to maintain a multitude of responsibilities which can include managing their households, taking care of their children and also generating income. The jewelry shops provide ideal jobs for many of the women who are not able to work in the mines due to physical conditions or family constraints. However, creating jewelry in the workshops allows the women flexible schedules, giving them the opportunity to work a respectable and creative job with rewarding results.
Aurelsa is sincerely dedicated to the most efficient practices, and plans to use their FAIRMINED premiums in the future to invest in an agitation and desorption plant which will streamline their production processes. As a company, Aurelsa strives to operate with the safest, most reliable practices to ensure a safe environment, economic security and future for its citizens. They are also planning several community development projects which will invest in local infrastructure, improved health care facilities, the current schools and eventually diversified education facilities.
Getting to know Aurelsa and Relave
Since its founding, community development has progressed steadily in Relave, and in 2002, Relave democratically elected its first mayor. He is a noteworthy leader, tireless engaging communities and government in the entire area of Pullo, where is a strong advocacy figure for ASM rights and formalization in the region. The community continues to wisely invest in long term development projects, and as a result Relave has established 3 schools for the town’s more than 650 students! It also boasts a health center, a subsidized community grocery store and big plans for future town development.
One of Aurelsa’s greatest infrastructural achievements was the construction of an industrial park outside of the town center, which transferred all mining activities away from the community, reducing health and safety issues. Children are not permitted to enter the industrial park, and after all the mining operations were removed from the town, they are planning to utilize those spaces for investment in more education and health facilities.
Relave is an inspiring community, triumphing difficult circumstances through the years. To commemorate their successes, each year in June Aurelsa sponsors a community event where the whole town of Relave celebrates its history and future with food, festivities, games and entertainment!
Women of Aurelsa: María Rosa Reyes Pajuelo
One of the most outstanding leaders in Aurelsa, María was elected as the most recent Managing Director, moving up from her previous position as the Administrative Director. She is not only indispensable to the company, but also to the community: she has participates in the workshops provided by ARM and is a trusted colleague.
The population of Relave is about 4,000 people, the majority of which are supported by mining activities, auxiliary services and the Fairmined premiums that Aurelsa receives. Within the company, there are 86 shareholders, 9 of which are women. Of the 45 contracted employees within the company, 8 are women. Compared to typical industry gender practices, Aurelsa has always been a leader in equal opportunities in the mining sector. Although Aurelsa has made significant improvements concerning gender equality, they have a long journey ahead of them to embed women’s rights and gender equality in their business model and operations, as well as in the community of Relave.
Aurelsa’s Mining Practices
From the very beginning of their journey to formalize their efforts, Aurelsa has been affiliated with the Regional Association of Artisan Mining Producers of Middle South (AMASUC) and to SONAMIPE (National Association of Artisanal Miners of Peru). As active members of these two important organizations, Aurelsa was able to build a network of regional support to bolster their partnership with ARM. Aurelsa began working with ARM in 2008, and achieved FAIRMINED certification in May 2012.
Aurelsa has worked for several decades to achieve all of the required permits and licenses to operate mines, their processing plant and to utilize explosives. Furthermore, during the process of formalization Aurelsa systematized their labor policies: all workers receive all necessary safety equipment from the company and are covered with comprehensive health insurance and benefits.
Aurelsa Gold Facts
- FAIRMINED certification: May 2012
- Monthly Production: 3 kg of gold, refined into bars, 99.95% purity; 4 kg of silver.
- Processing Method: Cyanide leaching
- Sourcing: Certified Trader
Aurelsa’s mining title covers 1,000 hectares, and the workers organize into separate mining groups. Group One, Coronado Brothers and Ataucusi Groups are the primary mining units. Other groups of authorized producer partners are also contracted under the company’s mineral title as self-employed miners. These receive equal rights and access as indicated by formal agreements, and are equally obligated to shareholders as indicated in the General Law On Peruvian Companies and the company´s by-laws. 10% of contracted miners’ production goes to Aurelsa, and once their royalties are paid, the miners are free to sell their gold as they choose. However, most contracted miners working with the Aurelsa sell their gold to the company, where they are assured fair treatment and prices for their minerals.
Aurelsa holds general assemblies once a month to ensure inclusive growth within the company. They have also established a strong internal control system, in which they manage their own accounting and financial systems, allowing them to make informed and precise business decisions. They continually go beyond their minimum requirements for Fairmined certifications and offer their expertise and knowledge to other mining communities in the area, which has transformed the company into one of the area’s regional business leaders. They hold workshops and training seminars for other regional ASMOs, teaching them how to manage financial records, integrate into formal financial markets and access a variety of banking resources.