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East Africa: Fairtrade to promote ethical small-scale mining

“Fairtrade Wants to Put its Stamp on Conflict-Free Gold”

Tiny specks of gold help provide an income for Dan Omondi Odida’s community in Kenya, where people make a living mining by hand the seams of gold around Lake Victoria. Millions of men and women in Africa mine gold informally at best, illegally at worst, and many are indebted to middlemen who sell gold cheap — often at prices drastically below the global price.

Odida is general secretary of Micodepro, which promotes safe mining in Kenya. Through Fairtrade, his group has been trained in how to use mercury safely, business skills and health. Artisanal and small-scale mining is the second biggest employer in Africa after agriculture and a traditional activity for many communities, but one that’s often associated with informality and illegality. It offers crucial livelihood to some of the most vulnerable people in the world who are often exploited. Many earn less than $1 a day, according to Fairtrade.

…The first mines to reach certification will be in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, Fairtrade said in a press release. For Fairtrade gold, miners are guaranteed a fair minimum price and money to improve their businesses or the community for better education, clean water and healthcare. Fairtrade certification means small scale-miners meet standards for working conditions, health and safety, handling chemicals, women’s rights, child labor and environmental protection. [also refers to Intel & Apple]