Read the story of Yeferson, a miner committed to the change towards responsible mining in San Roque, Antioquia, Colombia.

San Roque, Antioquia – The ‘Somos Tesoro’ (We are Treasure) project [1] focused on the elimination of child labor in mining areas of Antioquia and Boyacá between 2014 and 2020. One of the objectives of the project was the implementation of activities and improvement plans together with the miners, in order for them to meet the criteria of the CRAFT code, a passport to the formal market for small mining, focused on mitigating the main risks related to this sector.

Among the 88,734 miners who already work in formalized mines in Colombia (figure from the DELVE Portal, 2020), is Yeferson Gaviria, 25 years old, a miner who has been working in mining for 9 years and has been in San Roque since The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) arrived in the territory in 2019. His position is “driller”: he opens holes in the rock to house the explosive and its accessories to carry out blasting in the mine.

Today Yeferson is part of the La Piedra de Mineros La Maria S.A.S mining production unit in San Roque, Antioquia. How is his working life in formalized and responsible mining?

                Photo credit: ARM

Yeferson wakes up at 5 in the morning. He gets ready and goes to work – at 7 a.m. is in the mine. He tells us that one of the things that exites him about his job, is to find a vein rich in gold.

“I like my job, everything I do here, especially drilling.
That is why it’s a pleasure to fulfill my task, my position.”

Mining is one of the most important parts of his life. Not only he, but also parts of his family works in this field.

“I worked in illegal mines mostly. One day I was out of work, I went to an illegal mine,
I asked and they gave me a job. ” That’s the way how he entered the world of mining, Yeferson tells us,.

Not only for him, but for many people, working in illegal mines is an “off-target” start, it is a seemingly easy way to find work. Yeferson has experience in underground and alluvial mining – reasons that make him a person with criteria to give his opinion on different work environments. His face changes with the question about formalized mining:

“For me, responsible mining means working legally. And working legally is a way of taking care of ourselves ”, he says and smiles.

Yeferson says he knows that working in a formalized mine such as Mineros La María means taking care of the environment for example, this is what he’s reffering to: he does have the comparison of his old work, which was not formalized. Now on the other hand, since the “Somos Tesoro” project began, several trainings have been carried out on topics such as safety at work, environmental protection and more:

“In these trainings we have learned how to go down the stairs safely, how to measure gases, collect and classify garbage plus we have planted trees…”

Yeferson would recommend working in formalized mining to his children or other relatives – he does not have the desire to dedicate himself to something different in the future.

Photo credits: ARM

[1] Info adicional sobre el proyecto “Somos Tesoro”:

Somos Tesoro is a leading project for the reduction of child labor in mining areas of Colombia, executed by Pact and ARM. Its comprehensive strategy, aimed at strengthening mining communities and protecting their children and adolescents, acts in homes, educational institutions, youth settings, in artisanal and small-scale mining and public policies.

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