Environment and Responsible Mining
Environmental Management in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining
As part of the processes implementing the CRAFT-Fairmined criteria, ARM recognizes the legitimacy and importance of the legal instruments for environmental management, promoting the compliance with the regulations applicable to the territorial context of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). In addition, the standard promotes environmental protection practices, particularly on the management of toxic substances and protection of ecosystems.
In addition, ARM assistance and advice to ASM operations seek to provide tools and develop strategies for the implementation of best practices in artisanal and small-scale mining to reduce the impact on ecosystems.
What is our focus at the Alliance for Responsible Mining?
Wastewater Management and its importance
Caring for our water in responsible mines! Environmentally responsible small-scale mining should be aware of and mitigate environmental impacts from mining operations on water bodies. When assisting mining operations, ARM measures the quality of wastewater and receiving waters to make technical recommendations on wastewater treatment systems to men and women miners.
Management of Waste and Hazardous Substances
Know how to manage waste and hazardous substances! Responsible waste management is part of the path to ethical mining. When working with miners on the path to formalization and responsibility, ARM also supports them in learning how to properly separate waste produced at mine sites, community and home, as well as how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
For environmentally responsible children!
We are the Guardians of the Environment
We use different everyday products at home that, after being used or consumed, are thrown away in the garbage. These are known as solid waste: bottles, packaging, paper, cardboard, glass and cans.
To protect the environment, invite your parents to put the 3Rs rule into practice at home and mine sites: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.
Download the 3Rs coloring booklet here.
Context of Environmental Regulations Applicable to Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining
The extraction and exploitation of minerals from the earth have long been part of the history of civilization. However, the introduction of mining machinery and additional mining processing has made this primary activity have a high impact on the environment. For this reason, most countries where mining activities are performed have established guidelines and regulations for mining regularization and environmental mitigation.
Environmental management instruments for mining operations have different names:
As for Colombia, environmental guides for mining formalization were available but later renamed as temporary Environmental Licenses in 2020 for new projects or projects not covered by any formalization plans. Global Environmental Licenses have been also available since 2005 granted during the term of the contract previously established with the mining authority. In addition, Environmental Management Plans were in place for mines operating before 1993.
For Honduras, the initial environmental management instrument is the Environmental Operating License or Operating License, which is temporarily granted once a bidder has fulfilled all requirements to start a mining project. This permit is valid until the issuance or denial of the Environmental Operating License, endorsing the continuity of the project for up to 5 years, after which time it must be renewed.
Different formalization processes have been created in Peru for existing artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations. Operating licenses were granted to ASM projects through Corrective Environmental Management Instruments (IGAC in Spanish) between 2012 and 2016 and Environmental Management and Inspection Instruments for the Formalization of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (IGAFOM in Spanish) until March 2020. For new operations, submitted reports should comply with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS.) Different formalization processes have been created in Peru for existing ASM operations. Operating licenses were granted to ASM projects through Corrective Environmental Management Instruments (IGAC in Spanish) between 2012 and 2016 and Environmental Management and Inspection Instruments for the Formalization of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (IGAFOM in Spanish) until March 2020. For new operations, submitted reports should comply with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Each country has different guidelines for ASM formalization and environmental management, all of which recognize the need to formulate management measures to prevent, mitigate, correct or compensate for any produced or potential negative impact on the environment.
How Does the CRAFT Code Contribute to the Environment?
Protection of the Environment as Part of Mining Formalization
The CRAFT Code and the Fairmined Standard provide tools for governments and the mining industry to encourage ASM formalization and recognize the efforts and commitments of legitimate men and women miners interested in gradually adopting practices aimed at improving the management of their mining practices. The CRAFT Code is the agreement between the application of due diligence in the mining sector and the start towards formalization as a key element to access formal supply chains. Taking care of the environment and the protection of our planet is required to become a formalized mine.
Environmental Conservation and Restoration Activities
Although artisanal and small-scale mining does not produce the same significant impacts as those of large-scale mining, it does have an important opportunity for contributing to the conservation of ecological functions in mining surroundings and preventing cumulative environmental impacts.
Significant reforestation progress has been achieved in different mining operations supported by ARM by starting reforestation processes in areas degraded by mining activities through reforestation campaigns and implementation of silvicultural management plans with men and women miners in collaboration with local partners.
There are three Fairmined-certified ASMOs in Ananea, Puno:
Central de Cooperativas Minero Metalúrgicas de Puno, CECOMIP LTDA received the Fairmined certification in 2016.
MINERA ORO PUNO (ecological gold) received the Fairmined certification in 2018.
Cruz Pata Chaquiminas received the Fairmined certification in 2020.
As part of their initial mine closure processes, these organizations have launched revegetation pilots in areas at around 4600 meters above sea level.
The 2014 Fairmined-certified Multiactive Agromining Cooperative in Íquira, Huila has provided environmental compensation by planting trees in a 38-hectare estate.
Mina La Gabriela, currently in the process of becoming Fairmined certified, is a mixed productive project in Tarazá, Antioquia that develops mining together with fishing and agricultural activities, integrating its work with the natural environment.
Mineros La María S.A.S., ASM organization, currently implementing activities to become Fairmined certified, has accomplished geotechnical stabilization and reforestation with native species in eroded areas of San Roque, Antioquia.
La Gualconda mine in Los Andes-Sotomayor, Nariño, owned by “La Fortaleza” small-scale agromining association, has an advanced process of silvicultural management in landscapes using a variety of flowers, shrubs and trees, as well as soil restoration processes.
Cooperativa del Distrito Minero de La Llanada Ltda – Coodmilla, Nariño has provided environmental compensation by planting forest species with the support of the Mining Affairs Office of La Llanada municipality.
Top Stories and News
A group of men and women miners in Paipa reforested a 2500 square meter estate in partnership with the Alliance for responsible Mining and Gensa under the framework of the Somos Tesoro (We are a Treasure) project.
BLOG IN SPANISH: Lessons learned in mining territories, guidelines to prevent failure in restoration processes and contributions to national climate change programs.
The importance of reforestation processes is highlighted as one of the potential contributions that ASM can offer in face of the global climate agenda, as these processes do not only involve landscape improvements but also promote the restoration of ecosystem services.
Environmental Restoration Programs
Ongoing and Completed Projects on Environmental Issues
UNDP - United Nations Development Program
The implementation of demonstration processing plants will benefit several ASM miners to support better ore processing practices using alternatives to the use of mercury.
UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results.
Resilient, Inclusive, Inclusive & Sustainable Environments (RISE) - A challenge to Address Gender-Based Violence in the Environment
The MIT D-Lab Inclusive Economies program and the Alliance for Responsible Mining have joined together to launch a two-year program addressing gender-based violence affecting women involved in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in the Antioquia region of Colombia.
Based on set criteria, the Fairmined standard seeks to promote the progressive elimination of the use of mercury and cyanide. An additional premium is awarded for gold and associated precious metals produced under rigorous environmental practices, including forest restoration in high-biodiversity wilderness areas and ecological restoration of ecosystems.
Only gravimetric methods for mineral processing without using mercury or cyanide are accepted for this certification.
The Use of Mercury in Small-Scale Mining
Following the entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in August 2017 and considering that the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is one of the main sources of pollution around the world, ARM adopted a stance on the use of mercury in gold ASM.
Methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury, can enter the human body more quickly through the respiratory system, water and food. One of the most common diseases caused by mercury poisoning is Minamata disease, which mainly affects the neurological system and includes the following symptoms:
Loss of peripheral vision and damage to hearing
Given the serious health effects of mercury exposure, our organization has the responsibility to raise awareness among the artisanal and small-scale mining sector about the impact of mercury in order to propose adequate production alternatives that are beneficial to miners without posing risks to the environment and surrounding communities.
Alternatives to Reduce the Use of Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining
As part of our work to promote best practices among artisanal and small-scale miners, ARM has just released a video to inform about the impact of mercury on human health and the environment, as well as to promote the reduction and elimination of mercury in gold mining.