The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) developed the Fairmined Standard to create opportunities for artisanal and small-scale mining organizations (ASMO), helping them to transform into responsible organizations regarding their economic, technological and environmental performance. Fairmined Certification facilitates access to international markets and provides ASMOs with a premium which can be invested in improved productivity or organizational and social projects.
Although Fairmined Certification has a lot of advantages for ASMOs, the road towards achieving certification is challenging. The present standard requirements and rigorous annual certification audits are sometimes difficult to comply with and require a lot of time. This article is a résumé of recent developments in the Fairmined Certification System.
New Fairmined Certifications
Obtaining Fairmined Certification requires effort and commitment from the ASMOs, and in most cases external support. That’s why ARM has supported La Fortaleza since 2013 on its path towards certification. La Fortaleza is a non-profit association located in the Nariño department in Colombia. It was formed by families who were displaced due to the armed conflict and who engaged in gold mining activities. Their efforts have been rewarded when they obtained Fairmined Certification in January 2017. Find out more about La Fortaleza here.
In the same department in the municipality of La Llanada, five mines who belong to the COODMILLA Ltda mining cooperative individually obtained Fairmined Certification in 2015. They were an example for the whole cooperative, demonstrating that it is possible to comply with the challenging requirements of the Fairmined Standard and gaining national and international recognition for their certification. This was a door-opener for the rest of the cooperative who started working towards certification as a unit. On 16 January 2017 COODMILLA obtained Fairmined Certification, and this time not just individual mines, but as a group of 140 members with a production system of 10 mining sites.
Although at first sight it seems that certified mines went down from five to one, this doesn’t reflect reality. These five pioneering mines started a transformation within the whole cooperative to work towards more responsible mining practices and today the participating mining sites produce more Fairmined Gold for the market.
Organizations working towards Fairmined Certification
In coordination with its local allies ARM supports artisanal and small-scale miners to work towards Fairmined Certification. This year around 4 mining organizations from Latin America will receive a certification audit, depending on their progress in complying with the standard requirements. Various new projects will be implemented in 2017 to support more mining organizations in becoming certified, which makes middle and long-term projections of newly certified mining organizations very promising.
Recertification and certification processes
Obtaining Fairmined Certification isn’t the only challenge. After achieving this goal the mining organizations need to continue their development, working hard to maintain certification and achieve recertification, which becomes more demanding every year.
A good example of commitment and positive results of Fairmined Certification is the Iquira Cooperative which became certified in 2014 and achieved its second recertification in 2017.
Nevertheless, dynamics are different in every company – mining organizations may make internal decisions which result in a change of strategy and priorities. An example is Sotrami SA, where leaders decided not to renew their Fairmined Certification due to their achieved organizational growth and their preference to manage their company autonomously without external control organisms who evaluate their performance. Sotrami has benefited from Fairmined Certification for 6 years, helping them grow, improving their corporate social responsibility towards their community and positioning them in the market. We wish them all the best in this new stage, Sotrami will always be part of the history of Fairmined.
Another example is Aurelsa, who is restructuring its organization at the moment, preparing for the renovation of their Fairmined Certification. Leaders are working hard on reorienting their activities, due to internal difficulties that have occurred during the last year. Although the miners face difficulties they believe in the added value of Fairmined Certification and will concentrate their energies on making improvements and the necessary adjustments to receive the auditors within the next months.
Aurelsa, as well as many other small-scale mining organizations, have to face different internal and external challenges, such as: staying up-to-date with formalization processes and new norms, limited human, administrative and technical resources, economic difficulties, technical deficiencies in their mines, politics and laws that just benefit large-scale mining, among others. All these factors influence and complicate certification and recertification processes.
These are the 6 mining organizations which are Fairmined certified at the moment:
|Asociación Agro Minera de los Andes “Fortaleza”||COLOMBIA||Certified|
|CECOMIP -Central de cooperativas minero metálurgicas de Puno Ltda-||PERU||Certified|
|Cooperativa Minera Aurífera 15 de Agosto Ltda||BOLIVIA||Certified|
|Cooperativa Multiactiva Agrominera del Municipio de Iquira||COLOMBIA||Certified|