COVID-19: Better Gold Initiative provides emergency relief for Colombian artisanal gold miners
The Better Gold Initiative (BGI), a joint initiative by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA), announces special support measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Miners (ASGM), which participate in the BGI initiative.
As a support measure, as of April 22th, close to 1300 food parcels will be delivered to the traditional artisanal gold panners, ‘barequeros’, from Chocó in Colombia, who are enrolled in the Better Gold Initiative. This is thanks to a joint action between SBGA and SECO, through BGI Colombia, with the support of local NGO the Atabaque Foundation, the International Trader Anexpo, as well as its local representative, Fenix.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges throughout the world, putting at risk the health of millions and causing the death of thousands. While the virus continues spreading, we can already observe the negative effects of this crisis on local economies where artisanal mining activities are impacted due to confinement and logistics restrictions.
The situation is particularly critical in the context of Chocó, one of the poorest regions of Colombia, and for traditional artisanal gold miners whose daily livelihood depend on gold mining. BGI has been working with these communities and has developed a responsible value chain to the Swiss market.
The artisanal gold mining practiced by barequeros is an ancestral livelihood for the predominantly Afro-Colombian population. The Barequeros, comprising 46 % women, use local traditional alluvial mining techniques with manual equipment such as sluices and panning. No mercury is used, protecting the region’s biodiversity, which is amongst the most unique in the world. In a region that is heavily dependent on gold mining and has a limited safety net, the Barequeros are highly vulnerable to the economic restrictions posed by the pandemic, and thus require more than ever the support of their partners.
The SBGA and SECO are committed to support ASGM producers within the Better Gold Initiative and are making good on that commitment through this contribution in helping to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on these artisanal miners.
The BGI for ASM is a public-private partnership between SECO and the SBGA. Through this initiative, SECO and the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA) promote the creation of value chains for responsibly sourced gold from artisanal and small-scale mines in three countries (Colombia, Peru and Bolivia). BGI provides technical assistance to ASGM operations to improve their environmental, social and labor standards to access Swiss premium gold market.
For more information: http://www.bettergold.org