March 2018 – Medellín Colombia
Making real the idea of bringing jewelers and people from the gold industry to visit the Fairmined mines and to know first-hand the incredible work these artisanal miners are doing was one of the dreams of the Fairmined Team during the last years. However, this amazing experience surpassed both ours and the jeweller’s expectations.
The first day we met and shared experiences with 13 jewelers, 2 gold industry consultants, 3 Fairmined Authorized Suppliers and 4 journalist. All of them came from around the world (USA, UK, Italy, France, Germany…) to meet in Bogotá Colombia where we travelled by road 6 hours to the city of Neiva in the department of Huila. It was nice to finally meet the people behind these Brands who, in most cases, have been working with Fairmined for a longtime and are very important supporters.
After traveling across deep green valleys and coffee plantations, finally the miners and visitors met for the very first time in the offices of the Fairmined artisanal mining organization Iquira. In an emotive welcome, jewelers introduced themselves explaining why they decided to make this trip. Some of them even said it was like a dream that came true. On their side, miners had the opportunity to show how the Fairmined Gold and Certification have a positive impact in their lives, communities and environment. After presentations it was time to get dirty and take our guests, most of whom spend their everyday in the fashion industry, down into the muddy and dark tunnels where the miners work hard every day. Riding to the mines on dirt roads via all terrain bikes, trucks and jeeps was a whole adventure, what an amazing day!.
In the middle of the trip we decided to give the visitors the opportunity to discover a little bit about Colombia, while having a reflection day about what they just had lived. We visited the Tatacoa desert, an emblematic place of the region, where more than one was stunned and amazed by the beauty of the landscapes.
After taking a flight to the region of Nariño in the south of Colombia, we lived a breathtaking journey, climbing winding dirt roads from the river valleys up and around the endless green mountain ranges on rout to the certified mining organization Coodmilla. Visiting these artisanal miners was fantastic to understand the true sense of a real cooperative movement. It was impressive, among other things, to see how the certified mines use the Fairmined Premium to help other local miners work towards Fairmined Certification.
The Fortaleza mining organization was the third and final mine visit of the trip. Even though they are a small operation they have big dreams. Rolbelto Alvarez, president and miner, shared their dream for responsible mining with a moving speech that had some jewellers in tears. They were so proud to show the visitors their new Mercury Free processing plant. Jewelers called it the Luxury Mine as it was surrounded by natural waterfalls and streams with manicured gardens, green areas and a nature trail, making a natural landscape one would not expect of a mine.
Hearing testimonials directly from the miners, who were so proud to show the progress they have made through Fairmined Certification, the jewellers could experience firsthand how Fairmined is transforming the lives of the miners, their communities and environment. We all bonded on the trip, forming a Fairmined family and everyone left motivated and committed to return to their lives and business with plans to share their experiences and raise further awareness about the importance of supporting responsible artisanal miners and the positive impacts of Fairmined Certification. Those who have visited the mines will never look at a piece of gold or jewellery the same again, understanding how behind each gram of gold are people, families and communities. We look forward to planning another trip next year.