Italian photographer, Stefano Guindani, took a trip to Colombia in October 2022 to see the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining sector, as part of the “BG4SDGs – Time to Change” project. During his visit, he was deeply touched by the urgency of transforming artisanal and small-scale mining practices to make them more sustainable and responsible.
Stefano Guindani and the videomaker Johnny Dalla Libera visited a Fairmined certified mine in Colombia to document the current working conditions in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector and the solutions to make gold extraction sustainable. The two photographers undertook this journey as part of the “BG4SDGs – Time to Change” project of the Italian bank Banca Generali.
This photographic project is dedicated to exploring the world of sustainability through the universal matrix of the 17 SDGs defined by the United Nations in the document “Transforming our world. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” signed in Paris in 2015. In their research on carrying Outside the project, Guindani has visited: Norway, Australia, the United States, and Colombia, among others, and will tell the story of the places he visits through his photographs and the account and rigorous analysis of the anthropologist Alberto Salza.
During the visit to the Fairmined certified organization, they saw how small-scale mines can extract gold in an environmentally friendly way, manage water responsibly, avoid the use of mercury, and have an organizational structure that offers well-being to their employees, job stability, and guarantee their safety and health at work. “I enjoyed visiting mine Chede and meeting their operation, I´m happy to find proud miners working for their communities, and caring about natural resources,” said Stefano.
The team also went to El Tambo school, to accompany the Chede team to the celebration of Children’s Day. In 2021, the Chede organization built a playground in the school, a project financed with the Fairmined premium that Chede received in 2020.
The Photographer visited other mining operations that are still facing challenges such as formalization, and gold extraction by using substances such as mercury that are highly harmful to the environment and the operators.
Mines on their way to responsible mining
Inspired by what he saw, Stefano decided to take action by making a contribution to the Alliance for Responsible Mining(ARM). Stefano’s donation was assigned to “Asociación de Mineros Mina Cangrejo” mining organization, located in Santa Rosa del Sur, Bolívar – Colombia which is accompanied by ARM’s team under the PlanetGold-PNUD Project to implement the mining CRAFT code. The donation consisted of equipment for the welfare of the workers to ensure that the miners work safely and effectively, while also promoting responsible mining practices.
“We are very happy and we thank Mr. Stefano for his donation, for us it means a great encouragement to continue our goal of responsible mining, and awaken the interest of other miners in the region in joining the Alliance for Responsible Mining’s Sustainable Mines Program.” Said Mauricio Rodriguez, a Member of the Asociación de Mineros Mina Cangrejo mining organization.
Mercury free-mining: a path to build together
Mercury is used in artisanal and small-scale mining because it is an easier and cheaper way to extract gold. The environmental cost is the destruction of the ecosystem, irreversible damage to human health, and contamination of water sources. Thousands of mines still extract gold in this way, and they need to finance clean technologies to extract the gold in a responsible manner. This is why it is important to support their path in the Sustainable Mines Program. By supporting responsible mining practices, you help create a more sustainable and equitable future for all. Making a donation is one of the many ways you can have a positive impact on the ASM sector: choose traceable gold, require your products to have a certificate of origin, ask about responsible small-scale gold mining, and choose products with the Fairmined certification, in this way, the balance can tip in favor of the protection of the planet and human rights.
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