Re­gional small scale gold min­ers get out­let

East African Business Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOHN SAMBO

LON­DON, UK-- Fair­trade Africa, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that tries to en­sure Africans are not un­der­paid for their prod­ucts, re­cently cer­ti­fied Syany­onja Ar­ti­san Min­ers’ Al­liance (SAMA).

“This is a truly mo­men­tous and his­tor­i­cal achieve­ment and the re­al­i­sa­tion of a dream that is many years in the mak­ing. Gold pro­duc­tion is an im­por­tant source of in­come for peo­ple in ru­ral economies,” Gon­zaga Mun­gai, Gold Man­ager at Fair­trade Africa said in a state­ment.

SAMA is one of nine pre­vi­ously in­for­mal groups from Uganda, Kenya and Tan­za­nia which has ben­e­fit­ted from a pi­lot project launched by Fair­trade in 2013.

This in­no­va­tive pro­gram aims to ex­tend the ben­e­fits of Fair­trade gold to ar­ti­sanal min­ers across East Africa.

SAMA has be­come the first ar­ti­sanal small scale min­ing co-op­er­a­tive in Africa to be­come Fair­trade cer­ti­fied. This of­fers hope to im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties who risk their lives to mine the rich gold seam that runs around Lake Victoria.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to SAMA, it sets a prece­dent which shows that if groups like this can achieve cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, then it can work for oth­ers right across the African con­ti­nent.”

The co-op­er­a­tive pro­duces just 5 kg gold per year, but nev­er­the­less has the po­ten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fit many peo­ple in the lo­cal com­mu­nity through bet­ter con­di­tions through cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. It is ex­pected that Fair­trade and or­ga­ni­za­tions like Cred Jew­ellery will sup­port the min­ers, en­sur­ing their gold can be re­fined and made avail­able to jewellers in the UK and other mar­kets.

Mun­gai said, “Sourc­ing African met­als from smallscale min­ers in the Great Lakes Re­gion is the re- spon­si­ble thing to do. For a long time com­pa­nies have avoided buy­ing gold from this re­gion, with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences for im­pov­er­ished com­mu­ni­ties who were al­ready strug­gling.

“It has driven trade deeper un­der­ground, as un­scrupu­lous buy­ers pay lower prices and laun­der il­le­gal gold into le­git­i­mate sup­ply chains. That’s why we have cho­sen to work with these groups to help them earn more from their gold within a ro­bust com­pli­ance sys­tem,” he said.

The Fair­trade Gold Stan­dard en­cour­ages bet­ter prac­tice and changes to come in line with in­ter­na­tional reg­u­la­tion around the pro­duc­tion and trade of so-called ‘con­flict min­er­als’. Un­der the Stan­dard, min­ers are re­quired to up­hold a hu­man rights pol­icy pre­vent­ing war crimes, bribery, money laun­der­ing and child labour

Se­condly, clearly rep­re­sent where the min­er­als were mined

Third, min­imise the risks of con­flict min­er­als through ro­bust risk as­sess­ments and col­lab­o­ra­tion across sup­ply chains

Fi­nally at­ten­tion is given to buy­ers and trad­ing part­ners re­gard­ing the risks of con­flict min­er­als Now in its sec­ond phase, the pro­gramme will fo­cus on sup­port­ing other min­ing groups in the re­gion to ac­cess af­ford­able loans and ex­plore a phased ap­proach to ac­cess­ing the Fair­trade mar­ket, al­low­ing more min­ing co-op­er­a­tives across Africa to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gramme.

We have cho­sen to work with these groups to help them earn more from their gold

VERY HARD WORK: Fair­trade be­lieve sourc­ing African met­als from smallscale min­ers is the re­spon­is­ble thing to do.

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