Mammoth Tusk Gold
In the summer of 2008 I learned of a sustainable gold mine in the Yukon Territory of Canada and was invited to visit. The Mammoth Tusk mine harvests alluvial gold in the Dominion creek valley, a two-hour helicopter flight from Whitehorse and was the first (of which I am aware) responsible gold mine in the world that was third-party certified by the Canadian and Territorial governments and the First Nations (native) people of the territory.
When Mammoth Tusk mines closed in 2008 I was at a loss as to where to turn to find ethical gold with a traceable and transparent provenance. Soon thereafter I was put in contact with the people behind a program called Oro Verde (Spanish for Green Gold), the first program of its kind in the world. It seeks to reverse the devastating damages caused to the Chocó bioregion in Colombia, a rainforest that is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, by out-of-control large scale mining. Oro Verde promotes compliance with 10 environmental and social criteria among traditional gold and platinum mining communities.
In May, 2011, following our Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) Board of Directors meeting in Medellin, Colombia I flew to La Paz Bolivia to visit the Cotapata mine, the world’s first Certified Fairtrade and Fairmined gold mine. Perched near 14,000 feet in Cotapata National Park in the Bolivian Andes, this hardy community is a model of ingenuity and resourcefulness. In operation for over 20 years, they are providing livelihoods for more than 100 families and meet or exceed all environmental and social standards of the park and the Bolivian Government. The Cotapata Cooperative received Fairtrade and Fairmined certification in December, 2010.
15 de Augusto
While in La Paz I inquired of Daniel La Fuente, Producer Support for the ARM if I could visit another mining cooperative also becoming Fairtrade and Fairmined certified. He arranged a visit to the August the 15th Mining Cooperative. I was happy to have been taking my high-altitude acclimatization medications as most of the trip was near 15,000 feet. This mining community is of hardy, hard working people hope their example of responsible mining practices will inspire other mining communities around the world.