Cooperativa Minera Aurífera 15 de Agosto Ltda.
A Special Place with Special People
High in the sacred Illimani Mountain overlooking the sprawling metropolis of La Paz, Bolivia, the Cooperativa Minera Aurífera 15 de Agosto Ltda. is located in a breathtaking region characterized by high plateaus, glacial valleys and steep escarpments. Nights are cold and rainfall largely comes in the form of snow, but the miners persevere in spite of the difficult weather conditions.
Most of the community are of the Aymara ethnicity, an indigenous group that makes up 30% of Bolivia’s total population and that archeologists believe to have existed for at least 800 years. The Aymara language is the commonly spoken language in the community, followed by Spanish.
Matching their impressive surroundings, the 15 de Agosto miners are an inspiring group who has done much for the community. In addition to providing local employment, the co-operative invests up to 15% of their profits in community projects. They entirely funded the construction of the local elementary school that is free of charge and offers basic computer training, and they provided housing for teachers. The cooperative also organizes social events and celebrations, such as holiday festivals and soccer tournaments.
After every batch of gold is delivered to market, the members and miners are given time off to spend with family. When the new production process begins, the whole cooperative and community come together for a two-day celebration in honor of Pacha Mama to raise spirits and create solidarity.
Women of 15 de Agosto
The women in the cooperative work at the mills outside the mine. They oversee production, and some have administrative positions as well. At home the women are in charge of the household: caring for their family, cooking and cleaning while the men are at work in the mines.
“Thanks to the work I have done in mining, me and my family have a good home and food on the table every day”, says Alexander Nina, President of 15 de Agosto. “My expectations to the certification are to improve our mining activities and the place we live. With the premium, we now have more possibilities to support the community and open a health center.”
Number of shareholders: 50 women, 139 men
Number of workers: 1 women and 31 men
Type of mining: Hard rock
Interesting Fact: In addition to mining, the community also farms and raises cattle and sheep. Although this is primarily for self-consumption, excess produce and livestock provide a source of additional income.
15 de Agosto is Fairmined certified since September 2015.