Cristian Morales, Colombian miner who participated in ARM’s processes and president of the mining cooperative Coodmilla: “Perseverance is the tool to reach our achievements”.
Baptiste Coué, Coordinator of ARM’s processes: “Miners do not have access to formal financial services or mining titles to become formalized and invest in their activity”
The Alliance for Responsible Mining’s team (ARM) attended the 13th Forum on responsible supply chains for minerals of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which took place in Paris, France, on April 23-26.
ARM was represented by Natalia Uribe, head of Standards and Certification; Yves Bertran, Executive Director; Patrick Schein, Laura Barreto and Felix Hruschka, members of the Directive Board, and Baptiste Coué, Projects Coordinator. The team took part in the following activities: the civil society group session, panels on financial inclusion in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals’ (EPRM) members meeting, PPI, the activities update meeting of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA ), an organization ARM is involved with for the adoption of the CRAFT Code, and in the parallel session on the CRAFT Code, a Passport to Formal Markets.
Session “Implementing markets’ commitment towards a better inclusion of the gold ASM”.
On April 24, Cristian Morales, from Coodmilla LTDA, Nariño, Colombia, had the opportunity of recounting his experience with the CRAFT Code during the session, and he noted that he’d like people to understand that, as he said, “perseverance is the tool to attain our achievements”.
Likewise, Baptiste Coué, ARM’s project coordinator, highlighted some of the challenges faced by the miners in different areas of intervention. Baptiste stated: “It has been noticed that ASM miners sell their gold locally to reduce cost and risk. The role of local buyers is an important one, and sometimes it creates dependency as they offer credit and consumables in exchange for gold, by necessity. This is emphasized by the miners’ impossibility of accessing formal financial services or mining titles to operate formally and invest in their activity”.
Session on the CRAFT Code
A parallel session of the CRAFT Code took place with the participation of our partner RESOLVE, as well as counting with the intervention of Boukje Theeuwes, representing EPRM and Solidaridad, Cristian Morales, president of the mining cooperative Coodmilla LTDA, PACT and Yves Bertran, from ARM. During the session we shared experiences on the use of the CRAFT Code, and potential new users told us about how CRAFT could support the application of due diligence and the formalization of ASM of gold and other minerals. Moreover, we also thought about how the lessons learned could be useful to other organizations who’d like to use CRAFT for accompanying artisanal miners and as a Passport to Formal Markets.
Session on “Taking advantage of the role of the financial sector for responsible supplies”
Yves Bertran contributed to the session and insisted on the key role of facilitating access to foreign bank accounts to come out of informality and to break the vicious cycle of technical dependency associated to selling prices controlled by local owners and investors. He showed that the “perception of ASM by banks and the financial sector, in general, has worsened due to an extreme generalization of risk in the sector and to a lack of knowledge of the existing challenges and initiatives”. He also confirmed that risk translates to a lack of commitment to the miners and an attitude that is contrary to the OECD concept of due diligence.
Furthermore, Yves spoke in the session on “Complying with the country’s commitments”, which focused on the activities developed by different countries to disseminate the OECD concept of due diligence. Yves highlighted the key role played by the governments of producers’ countries, which must spread the concept on all levels of administration, especially on a local level, and to link it to national policies that favor formalization as a permanent transforming vector for ASM practices.
Artisanal and small-scale mining day: Follow-up of the Mosi-oa-Tunya Declaration
On April 26, Cristian took part in the main panel of the session, in which transparency was described as a necessary tool to improve trust in the sector. Cristian stated that transparency and trust should start from them (ASM) in order to build a relationship of familiarity within the whole mining sector. He added, “For us the CRAFT Code is a practical tool, and it is very important. It is the first step towards the formal market”. He told the case of his cooperative and said: “Thanks to the adoption of good practices, we have managed to sell our gold abroad. Moreover, we achieved being an example for other ASMOs who are climbing up, and we have managed to help them reach, at some point, our level”.
The opportunity to attend the event and to be able to accompany a Colombian miner, a miner and a public official from Burkina Faso, and a Peruvian journalist to such an important international occasion was meaningful for seeing and working with mining realities of different areas. Our experiences applying the CRAFT Code and working with miners and their communities taught us, now more than ever, that it is essential for the sector to participate in the dialogue. For this reason, at ARM we will continue working for a governance from the bottom up, which resolving real problems to achieve a responsible and sustainable ASM.