KAMPALA, Uganda: Three years ago when the locals started smallscale gold mining in Busia, life was a hustle. The price of buying their hard- earned gold was determined by the middlemen from Kampala.
TheCooperator News has established that Syanyonja Artisan Miners’ Alliance (SAMA), the first mining cooperatives to be awarded Africa’s first Fairtrade certified gold producer are in ‘things’.
With support from Fairtrade, they are set to generate USD $50,000 (shs19b) worth of impact for miners via the Fairtrade Premium by 2020.
The over 600 SAMA cooperative members are now determined to bring gold on the market in accordance with Fairtrade standards.
The new pronouncements after their first shipment of gold in the UK late last year now mean the hurdle of riding bicycles in Busia from village to village in the scorching sun looking for buyers of gold, now ceases.
Sarah Nafula, a mother of six who has been in the mines for two years revealed how happy they are with the news of SAMA being certified.
They, however, have to ensure that Mercury-free gold is the in-thing so as to meet the UK market standards.
The SAMA project started at the end of 2016. The members have been over time trained in financial and management skills. A committee of five SAMA members will be assigned to follow up the project and ensure that local communities participate.
Mercury-free production, in particular, is a huge step forward for the environment. In addition, this raises technology productivity and production costs remain low.
Fairtrade certified gold from Uganda was traded for the first time on 21 September 2018. The announcement was made at a Fairtrade Foundation conference Fairtrade Gold: Future Innovations at the Goldsmiths Centre in London.
Speaking at the event, Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, explained how the Fairtrade was supporting small scale mine sites in East Africa to access international markets on improved terms of trade.
The gold is traded to CRED Jewellers, supported by Greg Valerio and EWAD. Fairtrade aims to reach other mine sites from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya and to grow the volume of Fairtrade gold available to be exported on Fairtrade terms.
In addition, Fairtrade is launching a new partnership with technology firms Fairphone and Phillips, in collaboration with Solidaridad, HIVOS, and UNICEF. The scheme will support artisanal small-scale gold mines in Busia, Uganda, to responsibly mine gold and sell it into the supply chains of these technology businesses.
Fairtrade’s target is to generate USD $50,000 worth of impact for miners via the Fairtrade Premium by 2020.
“These first pioneering grains of gold I am showing you today symbolize so much. They represent safer working conditions, hope, and better lives for miners who struggle to put food on their table each day.
“We use gold for so much, from mobile phones, medical devices, and computers to medals and luxury jewellery. Gold not only symbolizes prosperity and luxury but also has the potential to create economic security in all the lives it touches,” said Mr Gidney.
According to Fairtrade 16 million, small-scale miners work in dangerous conditions around the world to provide gold for high street retailers. In Uganda alone, 130,000 people are employed through artisanal small-scale gold mining, and a further 800,000 benefit indirectly. Unlicensed artisan gold miners produce around 2.8 metric tons of gold per year, most of which are exported illegally.
“This is all about the people of the land benefiting from their resources that are in that land. It is economic, social and environmental justice for the poor.
“Through our work with African mine sites, Fairtrade directly addresses the endemic social and environmental challenges present in artisanal mining, to bring about direct benefits for artisanal small scale mining communities in a way that no other system has done,” said Mr Gidneys.