By: Daniel Acevedo Gómez – ARM Project Coordinator
In San Roque, Antioquia (Colombia), coexistence between small and large-scale mining is indeed possible. This is shown by the results of the implementation of the Sustainable Mines Program with 7 formalization subcontracts – La María, El Búcaro, El Caimo, La García, Malacia Gold, Manantial, and Bonanza 3 Gold – which are in the certification area of Gramalote Colombia Limited, which directly benefits over 350 miners and their families.
An Alliance for Regional Development
Since 2019, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and Gramalote Colombia Limited (GLC) have been working together for the mining development in San Roque under an agreement within the framework of an Interinstitutional Cooperation Agreement that aims to join efforts to support the mining formalization process in the area.
The recent agreement ended in 2022, in which different improvement actions for mining practices of the subcontracts were implemented, making progress in the implementation of the CRAFT (Code of Risk-mitigation for ASM engaging in Formal Trade), created by ARM, and that has been implemented in different ASM countries.
The CRAFT code provides a route to legitimacy and formalization for miners, through continuous improvement, starting from the highest risks to enable access to formal supply chains. This way, sustainable development of the ASM sector is promoted in the social, environmental, and economic areas, by complying with Due Diligence requirements.
ARM implemented comprehensive mining assessment in each subcontract for achieving such purposes, as well as sustainability plans, tools designed to evaluate the status of the mines in social and technical aspects, and manage actions to enable their transformation into sustainable, responsible mines. These actions led every mining organization on the path of compliance with the Code, making a contribution with mining and environmental authorities, with the mining titleholder, and the community.
Mines committed to comply with the CRAFT Code
Commitment from the mines that participate is visible when measuring the results obtained in the sustainability plans during 2022. On average, all mines achieved a 53% progress regarding the status identified with the comprehensive mining assessment, with average results of 80.70% compliance with the CRAFT standard. At a more detailed level, ARM’s Sustainable Mines Program allowed 11 MPUs to surpass 90% of compliance with the criteria established on the standard; 7 were over 80%, and 1 reached a compliance of 79.3%. It is necessary to keep supporting the mines in their compliance with the Code until reaching 100% of their formalization process.
The activities implemented during 2022 were oriented to the compliance with the criteria needed to mitigate risks in artisanal and small-scale mining – ASM, and the formation of legal, transparent chains. Therefore, the 19 mines that had the implementation of their sustainability plans showed positive changes in legitimacy, environmental, mining health and safety, traceability, social and human rights, gender, job conditions, organizational and business capacity, and commercialization issues.
Consequently, the agreement between Gramalote Colombia Limited and the Alliance for Responsible Mining, along with the participating formalization subcontracts, enabled concrete changes in issues such as the establishment of protocols for contingency management, signalization of storage areas for flammable and dangerous substances, and the inventory of dangerous substances labeled according to the globally harmonized system of classification and labelling of chemicals – SGA, improvement in ventilation systems, support in the permissions for the procedures of management, use, and storage of explosive material, prevention of risks in mining activities aligned with Decree 1886 of 2015 and the compliance with the minimum standards of the Occupational Health and Safety Management System aligned with Resolution 0312 of 2019, and the launch of the ¡Ponte pilas con la seguridad! (Get up to speed with safety!) campaign.
Additionally, mineral traceability systems were designed and implemented, training in Human Rights within the framework of Due Diligence with emphasis on forced labor, cruel and inhuman treatment in Conflict-Affected or High-Risk Areas was carried out, gender policies were made and updated, as well as the Internal Work Regulation, and the PQSRF (Spanish acronym for petitions, complaints, claims, suggestions, and congratulations) attention systems were established, updated and socialized. On the other hand, labor conditions in the mines were improved, as well as compliance with obligations in social security and the creation of Labor Coexistence Committees.
Mining formalization is the way
The results achieved with the joint effort between Gramalote Colombia and the Alliance for Responsible Mining in San Roque, Antioquia, confirm that formalization and compliance with mining obligations are indeed the way the ASM should take, and, beyond their understanding as a legal obligation, they are evidence of the social and environmental commitment for territory transformation.
Assuming international-level standards such as the CRAFT, allow mining organizations to transform in environmental, legitimacy, mining health and safety, gender, labor, traceability, and commercial issues. It is necessary to make progress on this path in 2023 for mining organizations to achieve sustainability in time.