At W.R. Metalarts we are passionate about transparent sourcing - so much so that we prioritize visiting mines in person to learn more about their processes and gain understanding of our impact in the industry. We are so excited to share the remarkable story of Mina Chede, a Fairmined mine situated in the Southwest region of Colombia and tell you all about our recent visit there. Mina Chede's journey is not just about responsible mining but also a testament to the power of ethical and sustainable sourcing, and the positive impact it can have on communities.
Fairmined Certification: Fostering Ethical and Sustainable Sourcing
Before we dive in, here is a quick refresher on Fairmined certification: Fairmined certification stands as a beacon of ethical and sustainable sourcing, ensuring that the precious metals used in your jewelry have been sourced responsibly. Beyond its role as a quality standard, the Fairmined program uplifts the lives of small-scale miners and promotes positive transformation in the jewelry industry. Supporting responsible mining (instead of other options like recycled metals or conventionally mined metals) is the best way to push the industry towards more sustainable practices as a whole.
Learn more about Fairmined here: Where Does Your Gold Come From?
Quick Facts About Mina Chede:
Mina Chede: A Glimpse into Ethical Mining
Mina Chede is situated in the picturesque municipality of El Tambo, nestled within the Cauca department of Colombia. The mine's journey commenced in 2007 when construction and assembly work began. After several years of dedication, Mina Chede finally received its Environmental License in 2011, which marked the beginning of gold extraction in this region.
The El Tambo region is unique, being home to a vibrant community where roughly half of the population is engaged in mining, while the other half finds their livelihoods in agriculture, particularly in coffee, agave, sugar cane, and pine cultivation. Approximately 100 people depend on Mina Chede for their livelihoods, reflecting its significance to the local community. Moreover, the organization has consistently promoted the education and well-being of its workers, reflecting its commitment to holistic growth.
The Path to Fairmined Certification: A Commitment to Sustainability
The journey towards Fairmined certification was an enriching and transformative one for Mina Chede, lasting approximately six months. One of the primary challenges faced by the organization was navigating the changes to their commercialization model. As Anny Jaramillo, Planning Director at Mina Chede, shares, "We decided to get this certification because we firmly believe that only an activity that takes into account all its surroundings (social, environmental, financial) deserves to be called mining. Nevertheless, what we are doing now could become mandatory in the future. For this reason, we want to tell all the miners who wish to follow this path: make it your decision today, don't wait for it to be an obligation tomorrow."
Achievements Thanks to Fairmined Certification:
Challenges Faced at Mina Chede
It hasn’t been easy for Mina Chede to achieve or maintain their Fairmined status, and the mine faces persistent challenges just to maintain operations. The family-owned mine goes above and beyond to not only attain Fairmined certification, but also to prove to local banks that their business is legitimate. Without support from the local or federal government, many banks view mines as risky to support and doesn’t allow the mine to accept foreign currency as a payment for their products. That means that Mina Chede is forced to use third parties to sell their Fairmined metals on the market, and constantly fights to validate their existence despite being the pinnacle of ethically mined gold. Most of all, Mina Chede faces challenges related to security. There are over 50 illegal mine sites within the Mina Chede property that all use mercury, polluting the collective rivers and land. These illegal sites are formed when groups simply walk onto the land and begin mining for themselves using non-certified methods. The mine also faces constant threats from armed forces who threaten to take over the land and operations. Despite these challenges, Mina Chede continues to demonstrate that ethical gold mining is possible - not only by minimizing environmental impact but also providing infrastructure to the community (like funding toilets in schools, for example).
Our In-Person Visit to Mina Chede
In late September, 2023, our founder, Will Nevins-Alderfer, joined the Fairmined organization on a group trip to Colombia. There, Will and other jewelers had the opportunity to visit the Chede mine and see the operations firsthand. The trip was extremely impactful as a way to humanize responsible mining efforts and cultivate extra motivation to support Fairmined programs. At W.R. Metalarts we believe that mapping our supply chain as closely as possible is of utmost importance, and this visit to Mina Chede is an example of how it is indeed possible to work collaboratively and fairly with suppliers at every tier.
How You Can Support Mina Chede: Choose Fairmined Jewelry
Mina Chede's story is one of transformation and commitment to ethical and sustainable mining. As a jewelry lover, you too can make this transformative commitment! By choosing Fairmined jewelry, you not only wear a piece of elegance but also become a part of this movement, supporting the well-being of miners and the environment. Your conscious choice can make a significant impact, transforming the jewelry industry into a force for good.
Mina Chede's journey exemplifies the potential for positive change within the jewelry industry. Let your jewelry be a symbol of sustainability, ethics, and a brighter future for all. Join us in supporting Mina Chede and the broader Fairmined movement by choosing Fairmined jewelry. Your decision today can pave the way for a more responsible and ethical jewelry industry.
Shop our Gold for Good: Fairmined Collection