The best way for mining companies that want to make a difference by giving a seal of responsible conduct and social purpose is to buy minerals from artisanal and small-scale mining committed to make their best efforts for risk management and first formalization steps by using the CRAFT Code and further bet on continued formalization to meet the high requirements of the Fairmined certification.
However, this solution brings up concerns for companies as artisanal and small-scale mining is often linked to high risks related to informality, worst forms of child labor, money laundering, armed conflict, environmental contamination, etc. In addition, traceability, logistics, knowledge of mining regulations in producing countries also contribute to the idea that buying ASM minerals is difficult and risky. However, leaving it aside is to somehow contribute people who are engaged in this activity to fall prey to exploitation by illegal groups, without any opportunity to have formal options to sell and develop their mining projects under a vision of responsible future nor to improve the living conditions of men and women miners and their families.
Therefore, the easy but catastrophic way out is not simply to stay away from ASM or ignore it or point it out. Rather, it is for the industry an opportunity to find ways to become involved by implementing due diligence practices, making it aware of the multiple risks in the mining sector to turn them into opportunities to be part of a positive transformation and contribute to its development goals. For this purpose, dedicated, widely consulted, implemented standards, such as the CRAFT Code and the Fairmined Standard, now become allies of the industry for risk identification and management of mining suppliers.
By being aligned with prioritized risks in terms of respect for human rights and avoidance of conflict financing in every stage of the supply chain, the CRAFT Code makes legitimate ASM producers implementing CRAFT understand market expectations on due diligence, as well as make the first move to adopt a risk management system as they commit to responsible production of minerals and metals in line with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and best efforts and practices in the ASM sector. In addition, miners conduct regular evaluations on the presence of child labor, forced labor and suspicion of degrading treatment. This is applicable to mine sites, processing plants, transportation routes and local business partners.
Miners pay all legal taxes and royalties, their operation is not illegally taxed, extorted or controlled by any public or private forces and their production volumes are in line with their productive capacity, which leads to the control of money laundering risks. Miners also define clear routes for continued risk monitoring so they can make proactive decisions such as the preparation of CRAFT reports, description of findings, and definition of risk mitigation strategies. Going beyond minimal compliance, miners can also define their own priorities in toxic substance management, mining safety and hygiene practices, water conservation, respect for the rights of women and children, among others, in order to define and implement actions leading to continuous improvement.
This allows the industry that buys minerals from men and women miners implementing the CRAFT Code to see all progressive changes, starting from any critical issues related to the mining sector, that ensure reliability on improvement efforts.
When complying with the CRAFT Code, formal mining organizations can qualify to demonstrate their corporate responsibility by complying with the Fairmined Standard, considered a guarantee of confidence that gold sold by these organizations follows national mining regulations, which also implement rigorous requirements in terms of environmental, labor, social and organizational sustainability as well as respect for human rights of their miners and communities.
Brands buying Fairmined gold are fully backed by rigorous processes for risk identification and the creation of improvement plans to achieve the Fairmined certification of their mines and therefore, meet the requirements of national regulations on due diligence and identification of mining suppliers. See some cases of Fairmined-certified organizations here.
Therefore, companies in the mining industry can find an ally like the Alliance for Responsible Mining as we support ASM organizations on their path towards legitimacy based on the adoption of the CRAFT Code and the Fairmined Standard and their sustainable vision by understanding the multiple characteristics of ASMs at their organizational and development levels. Thus, legitimate men and women miners can scale up their maturity as mining ventures and companies can become involved in risk management by supporting and proactively understanding the reality, challenges and achievements of the mining sector.
We make an urgent call for risk management in supply chains to avoid any increase in the risk of sector exclusion, but rather have measures and local partners so that due diligence leads to a positive impact on ASM sustainable development.