Today, at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development announced the awarding of an $8 million dollar grant to the Canadian-based Artisanal Gold Council (AGC). The grant will help fund a project to be carried out in Peru over the next five years focused on the sustainable development of a responsible artisanal gold sector. The Artisanal Gold Council is looking forward to working with the Peruvian and Canadian governments and the wide group of stakeholders involved in artisanal gold mining in Peru throughout this project.
This initiative is aimed at the improvement of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector in Peru. It is focused on achieving a higher level of organization, creating more diverse livelihoods, and improving the health and environments of those involved in the primary and secondary economies of the sector. One of the focuses is the reduction in the use of mercury by miners to help Peru meet its obligations under the Minamata Convention. AGC’s innovative approaches, expertise and deep field presence will drive improvements in mining, environmental, health and social practices for men and women involved in artisanal gold mining and its related businesses. The initiative will work with government, civil society, and the formal mining sector. It will enhance policy initiatives, create supportive structures for the artisanal mining sector, and increase participation in the trade of responsible artisanal gold in domestic and international gold markets.
Gold is Peru’s number one export — it is vital to its economy and many of its rural inhabitants. Of the 166 tonnes of gold produced in Peru in 2012, it is conservatively estimated that at least 26 tonnes (16%) originates from informal artisanal mining operations. Artisanal gold mining in Peru represents direct livelihoods for roughly 250,000 people, with connections to a secondary economy 5-6 times larger. There is an urgent need for social and environmental improvements and a transition of the informal sector into the formal economy. There are also opportunities to develop innovative mining and business practices in this sector. This new initiative will help create sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty and vulnerability for the thousands of individual miners, secondary economy workers, and small enterprises involved.
Artisanal gold mining is now recognized as a key building block for rural economic development by international organizations like the UN and the World Bank – as was the case for Canada 100 years ago. Globally, it produces 400-500 tonnes of gold or 15-20% of annual gold production with a value of roughly USD$20 billion and involves 10-15 million people (>90% of the gold mining workforce). It supports a secondary economy of approximately 100 million people in 70+ countries. Business and government have begun to understand that supporting and investing in artisanal mining communities is fundamental to any sustainable rural development policies. The AGC has been a key player in providing innovative technical, environmental, health and policy solutions to governments, miners, and the many other stakeholders involved in the artisanal mining sector. This Canadian supported initiative in Peru represents a new and exciting opportunity for the Artisanal Gold Council to expand and strengthen its mission.
For more information about the Artisanal Gold Council visit www.artisanalgold.org