Developing traceability solutions for artisanal and small-scale mines

15 September 2020

Solidaridad’s gold programme, through its ‘Accelerator for Responsible Gold’ project, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is providing support to small-scale gold mines to develop and implement traceability systems to keep well-documented records at every step of the mine value chain.

The traceability system helps mines keep records at every step of the mine value chain

A growing demand for responsible sourcing

There is an increasing international demand from consumers, downstream small-scale mining supply chain actors, and regulators for due diligence in the gold supply chain. Consumers want the assurance that the gold they buy is from a responsible source and can be traced to its origin.  

Incidents of child labour, unsafe working conditions and lack of environmental standards, as well as financial crimes such as corruption, money laundering and smuggling associated with some artisanal small-scale gold mining actors are reasons for the growing demand for supply chain due diligence.

To access markets for responsible gold, small-scale gold mines that produce gold responsibly must comply with traceability requirements in order to confirm the source of the gold.

The traceability requirements recommend that companies establish a chain of custody system – a range of documents that identify the source of minerals and their transport routes – to be able to identify where each material originates from.

A framework for traceability

Solidaridad has developed a training module on traceability and organized a training workshop for 20 participants from eight project mines. The participants were trained on the key terms governing traceability, such as chain of custody, system of production and internal control system.

With the system in places, mines will improve their operations to meet international standards

A basic framework for the traceability system has been developed using templates carefully designed to track and trace the chain of custody of gold and gold ore from ore excavation to gold separation for the mines.

The templates are tailor-made to suit the operations of each mine and to record employee and financial data. Yaw Britwum Opoku, gold programme manager at Solidaridad, outlines the two-way connection between transparency and increased support for mines.

The system will enable mines to achieve greater supply chain transparency which will, in turn, make it easier for them to access financial and technical support.” - Yaw Britwum Opoku

Currently, eight mines have been supported to implement traceability systems in their operations.

The stage is set for better traceability in small-scale mining

Obeng Mine Company Limited is one of the beneficiaries. The manager of the company, Stephen Baidoo says: “Traceability forms a huge part of our work process regarding responsible mining. Any mine aspiring to achieve international standards cannot do without engaging in traceability activities. We are, therefore, excited that Solidaridad has supported us with the development of a traceability system to improve our operations.” 

The system is designed to track and trace the chain of custody of gold and gold ore from ore excavation to gold separation

He believes the training they have received, coupled with the development of a traceability system for mines, will enhance efforts at discouraging mines from engaging in child labour, illicit trade, uncontrolled use of chemicals and forced labour.

Developing a traceability solution for artisanal and small-scale miners is in line with Solidaridad’s gold programme, which focuses on transforming gold production into a driver of better and more equitable outcomes from the mine to the market.

Read more about our work in Gold.

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