The project was developed by international NGOs Pure Earth and Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), with the support by the global jewelry company Brilliant Earth
Four artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities are the first to achieve the Fairmined certification in the Peruvian Amazon after being trained by Pure Earth to mine without mercury, and to reforest land damaged by mining, and accompanied by ARM to meet the standard requirements.
With ASGM being the largest source of global mercury emissions, this remarkable achievement not only underscores the feasibility of responsible mining in forested areas, but it also paves the way for the establishment of the first Fairmined certified gold supply chain in the Amazon, with support from companies such as Brilliant Earth, an innovative, global leader in ethically sourced fine jewelry providing crucial markets for responsible gold mined without mercury.
ARM, Pure Earth and Brilliant Earth recognize the commitment and efforts of these mining communities in their progressive path towards sustainability.
October, 9th 2023 (Lima, Perú) – Four mining concessions from the Association of Artisanal Miners Tauro Fátima – AMATAF- , pioneers in responsible mining based in the Madre de Dios (Peru) have achieved a significant milestone by being the first to obtain the Fairmined certification in the Peruvian Amazon in a project developed by Pure Earth and the Alliance for Responsible Mining, with support of the global jewelry company Brilliant Earth.
The dedication and commitment of the miners of the four mining organizations – Linda 2, El Príncipe Azul 1, Fátima and Abel 3 – have played a pivotal role in realizing this milestone. Working with Pure Earth, ARM and Brilliant Earth, the miners see that it is possible to work safely and make a living without mercury. They understand the importance of changing the way gold is mined, and are encouraging other miners to do the same.
With ASGM being the largest source of global mercury emissions, and with about a quarter of the world’s gold coming from ASGM, the certification with the Fairmined standard, created by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, is a testament to the positive impact that responsible mining practices can have on both the environment and the communities that depend on these resources. It underscores the vital role that responsible and environmentally conscious mining can play in safeguarding the Amazon rainforest and the health of people worldwide who are exposed to mercury, which travels and contaminates the seafood we eat.
“The certification process was challenging, but not impossible. We were able to meet all the necessary requirements. Now, with Fairmined certification we can sell gold at a fair price. I invite other miners to follow AMATAF’s steps, it really is true that you can do it.”
The path towards the Fairmined certification
Pure Earth has worked with AMATAF since 2019 to create a responsible ASGM model for the Amazon, based on eliminating the use of mercury, the reforestation of land damaged by mining, and the first sales of gold mined without mercury from these mining communities. Thus, thanks to the joint efforts of the miners and the technical team, these organizations became a benchmark for responsible ASGM in the Amazon. It was at this moment that Pure Earth recommended ARM to work with these organizations which lead to the “Green Mining” project, supported by Brilliant Earth, which was initiated with the objective of achieving Fairmined certification for the 4 mining organizations and continuing to strengthen the responsible ASGM model developed by Pure Earth in the Amazon.
“These responsible miners are truly agents of change. Their commitment to learning how to mine without mercury, and to restore the areas of the rainforest damaged by mining is inspiring. Working in remote and difficult conditions, they have overcome challenges to transform the way gold is mined in the Amazon to protect their families as well as ours. They deserve our support.”
“The Fairmined certification is a very important step for these communities. Now we need the commitment of the industry and other allies to give sustainability to this effort in order to protect such a vulnerable territory as the Amazon. “
Responsible supply chains from the Peruvian Amazon
The achievement also highlights the critical importance of market support in promoting responsible mining initiatives. Consumer demand for ethically sourced materials and the backing of organizations like Brilliant Earth provide the impetus for ASGM communities to invest in sustainable practices.
According to Conservación Amazónica (ACCA), 46,600 people depend on artisanal and small-scale mining in the department of Madre de Dios in Peru directly, reflecting a need to continue to focus on this region of the Amazon and join forces so that more miners carry out their activity in a responsible way.
One of the most significant outcomes of these mining organizations’ Fairmined certification is the creation of the first Fairmined supply chain in the Peruvian Amazon. This achievement not only protects the environment but also contributes to the health and well-being of local communities that rely on the Amazon’s resources for their livelihoods. Since 2019, these organizations implemented a gravimetric table in their process of extracting gold free of mercury, in an effort to minimize their impacts to the environment.They also reforested 8.4 hectares, with the support of Pure Earth, and Linda 2 is implementing a nursery to continue this process.
This momentous achievement by these mining organizations represent a beacon of hope for the future of mining in forested areas and stands as a model for other ASGM communities worldwide. It showcases that, with dedication, collaboration, and a commitment to responsible practices, it is possible to mine sustainably while safeguarding the invaluable ecosystems of our planet.
The artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector is witnessing a remarkable transformation, driven by the adoption of robust standards systems. As the Fairmined certification has demonstrated, since 2014, 1,7 tons of certified gold have been sold to the international market, empowering more than 3.000 miners from certified mining organizations. In return for their commitment to responsible mining practices, mining organizations have received more than 7 million dollars of Fairmined premium. This substantial economic recognition not only validates their dedication but also serves as a compelling incentive for continued investments in technical enhancements, aligning their operations with the highest requirements of the Fairmined standard.