Syanyonja Artisan Miners’ Alliance (SAMA) is the first Fairtrade certified artisanal, small scale gold mining co-operative in Africa, under a Fairtrade Foundation pilot project. This announcement sparks faith in those who are putting their life on the line to mine gold around Lake Victoria in East Africa.
In 2013, informal mining groups such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania have benefited from this pilot project. SAMA members have focused on educating themselves on business, the safe use of mercury, internal control systems, labour rights, better working conditions, health, safety and more.
This Fairtrade certification will be an advantage for people in the local community, because it will inspire improved conditions, while also guaranteeing this gold can be refined and made available to jewellers in international markets.
“This is truly a momentous and historical achievement and the realization of a dream that is many years in the making,” said Gonzaga Mungai, gold manager at Fairtrade Africa. “Gold production is an important source of income for people in rural economies. [SAMA] sets a precedent which shows that if groups like this can achieve certification, it can work for others right across the African continent.”