Fairtrade Gold Africa. Working together, empowered small scale miners and ethical international business people become an economic driver that alleviates poverty and preserves the environment.
Fair Trade invited me, as North America's only commercial representative, to see these new projects in Kenya and Tanzania in May of 2014. I visited several sites, working with inspiring people from Fair Trade Africa who are supporting this initiative by working directly with the miners on the ground.
The Fairtrade gold model in Africa works with underprivileged, small-scale miners. An operation of 40 to 60 people might mine between three quarters of a kilo to a single kilo of gold a month. They dig in vertical shafts about six feet by six feet.
The ore is then crushed into fine powder with machinery.
Then the gold needs to be concentrated in the crushings, which is done either by hand or through sluices in containment ponds.
Mercury is then mixed with dirt, gold and water, creating an amalgamate, a solid compound of mercury and gold, which could be anywhere between 70% and 90% pure gold.
Fairtrade gold not only supports the local economy, but it is 20 times more environmentally friendly than traditional large-scale mining. Fairtrade mines extract 20 to 25 grams of gold per ton of rock, while large-scale mines average just 1.5 grams per ton.