In our first NGO feature of 2015, we talk to Siri Teilmann-Ibsen, Communications coordinator at The Alliance for Responsible Mining.
We learn more about the issues facing artisanal and small-scale miners and The Alliance for Responsible Mining’s work in supporting them to improve their social and environmental practices.
What is the mission of the Foundation?
Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) accounts for around 10-20 percent of the world’s gold production and employs around 100 million people directly or indirectly, however the sector is characterized by wide-spread informality.
Our mission is to set standards for responsible Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) and to support and enable miners to deliver Fairmined certified metals (predominantly gold) through economically just supply chains to improve their quality of life.
Why was it started and when was it founded?
The Alliance for Responsible Mining was established in 2004 to promote the sustainable development and transformation of Artisanal Mining into a socially and environmentally responsible activity.
In 2006 we developed our first standard to improve the social, environmental and economic conditions of artisanal miners and link them to ethical markets worldwide. In 2011 the first mine was certified and their gold sold to ethical jewelers in the UK.
What problems are you currently trying to solve?
The mining sector is characterized by widespread informality.
Just here in Colombia, about 70 percent of all mining operations are classed as ‘artisanal and small-scale mining’ (ASM), and 63 percent are ‘informal’, meaning they lack a legal mining concession or title.
Over 340,000 Colombians depend directly on ASM and medium-scale mining (MSM) for their income but this informality not only deprives the state of important financial resources, the current poor conditions also prevent the sector from generating formal employment and improving quality of life in mining communities.
The Fairmined standard presents a market incentive to artisanal miners to improve their practices and a tool for government agencies and other working with ASM to support the miners in their journey to a better quality of life for them and their families.
Besides bettering their practices and receiving a fair price for their gold, they receive a Fairmined Premium which is invested in their mining operation or in community projects.
What projects are you currently carrying out and where are they based?
We currently carry out various projects in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali. They range from preventing children working in mines to helping train professionals in teaching responsible mining practices.
What is the impact of the projects and who are the beneficiaries?
There are now three certified mines here in Latin America and more than 30 mines working towards Fairmined certification which primarily benefits the miners and their families but also the mining communities.
Just in the first quarter of 2014, Fairmined Certified mines have received $250,000 USD in the Fairmined Premium.
How is the NGO funded and what charity status do you have?
We have partnerships that support our work with various organizations from different sectors such as the Inter-American Development Bank, UNIDO and Chopard (a Swiss Luxury brand).
We are also a registered charity here in Colombia.
How is the program sustainable?
The Fairmined standard takes a holistic approach to the complex issues in Artisanal mining.
Through their work to improve social, environmental and economic conditions and through their connection to ethical markets, the miners can ensure a more sustainable future for themselves and their families.
What are the requirements for people getting involved?
The only real requirement is that you are interested in helping us in our work to transform artisanal mining. The specific requirements depends greatly on what you want to do.
We almost always need volunteers to help out with projects in miners support, commercialization, communications, standard work, public policy and fundraising.
There are endless possibilities from video editing to market analysis, so let us know what you want to do and what you can offer.
What is the benefit of volunteering and how can you apply?
A volunteer position in our organization gives you a great possibility to apply what you have learned in university to real life projects or simply use your already well-developed skills to help us in our work.
It is important for us that volunteers and interns feel they learn something while they are with us.
We are always happy to receive volunteers and interns. If you are interested in joining us, just send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org explaining a little bit about yourself and what you would like to do.