Central de Cooperativas Minero Metalúrgicas de Puno: CECOMIP
Responsible alluvial gold extraction
Peru is a mining country par excellence and the department of Puno in particular is known for its mineral wealth, where during the last millennium a goldsmith culture has developed.
CECOMIP LTDA (La Central de Cooperativas Minero Metalúrgicas de Puno) is located in the district of Ananea, approximately 4,700 meters above sea level. This district belongs to the Province of San Antonio de Putina, a region with cold and snowy weather as the temperature fluctuates between a maximum of 7° C and a minimum of -13° C.
The cooperative was founded on September 4, 2005, by miners working in artisanal mines with basic tools. Today CECOMIP unites 9 distinct cooperatives with 200 members.
CECOMIP uses a method of alluvial gold extraction. Gold minerals are found mixed with other material like sand and gravel. The natural process that concentrates the mineral also helps to free the valuable minerals from the surrounding rock. This makes the extraction process easier and allows simple machinery to be used for the recuperation process.
Overcoming obstacles to achieve formalization
The formalization process was difficult and many obstacles had to be overcome, but today CECOMIP is proud to have all the permits required by national law and to meet all the requirements, including labor and environmental safety.
Once the formalization was achieved, CECOMIP was willing to further improve their activities. They realized that they could do even more: achieve a certification that would help them to improve further and implement new technologies that allow them to raise their productivity and contribute to the social and economic development of the community. So they started to work towards Fairmined Certification, to improve their conditions and gain access to fair gold markets.
CECOMIP’s people are its main capital and certification was possible thanks to their motivation. The cooperative’s people committed to responsible mining practices and therefore made it possible to meet the organizational, labor, environmental and traceability requirements of the Fairmined Standard.
Throughout the certification process the mining cooperative was supported by the Better Gold Initiative (BGI) – a public/private partnership between the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA) and the Swiss Cooperation (SECO), and their local partners ABR. They performed a gap analysis and helped to implement improvements in order to achieve Fairmined Certification.
Highlights of the certification process
One of the main accomplishments of CECOMIP was to obtain Fairmined Certification without any immediate corrective measures requested by the audit body. Among others, these are the most outstanding achievements of the organization:
– CECOMIP did not have a traceability system but extracted material without having any volume or transportation control. In their work towards certification they managed to establish a traceability system. This allows them to have proper control over the minerals which has a positive impact on the whole production process.
– With much effort, CECOMIP was able to invest a large sum to improve their signposting. Today they have adequate signaling in the extraction and processing area, administrative offices and warehouses.
– Another achievement was to set up a safe working environment for the workers and to guarantee a proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Now it is possible to differentiate the workers from different areas as every area has a unique type of PPE. Additionally, a labor lawyer was hired to give recommendations for improvement which were implemented gradually. Due to this, a better performance was achieved and communication with the employees improved, who now have full knowledge of their labor rights.
The way towards Fairmined Certification
In 2015, the Better Gold Initiative (BGI) conducted a survey among Peruvian mining organizations and identified CECOMIP as an organization with a tremendous potential to become certified, due to its great desire to mine responsibly.
In November 2015, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) invited Peruvian miners, including CECOMIP, to a regional workshop in La Paz, Bolivia. In this regional workshop, miners from Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru exchanged experiences. They could learn from already certified mining organizations and receive helpful information on certification, its benefits and the importance of responsible mining.
After the workshop was completed, ARM’s technical team visited CECOMIP and motivated the miners to continue with the implementation of the necessary improvements identified in the gap analysis, to be able achieve the certification.
In the pre-audit and the final stage of CECOMIP’s auditing, ARM with its allies BGI and ABR conducted trainings in legal and labor matters so that CECOMIP could make the needed adjustments to meet the Fairmined Standard’s requirements, which resulted in a successful certification on August 16, 2016.
Location: Province of San Antonio de Putina, department of Puno, Peru
Number of miners: 63 women and 137 men
Type of extraction: Alluvial
Date of Fairmined Certification: August 16, 2016
“We decided to accept the challenge of the Fairmined Certification because we pledge for environmental care and protection as well as for our community’s economic development. We know that more and more consumers demand sustainable gold produced under high environmental standards; we wanted to be a part of this process and we accomplished that. The time has come to export our responsible products backed by our social responsibility, in exchange for a fair price.” Declared William Yampara, president of CECOMIP.