Artisanal and small-scale gold mining, also known as ASGM, is a source of employment and development for more than 1 million people in Peru. Although ASGM represents 20% of gold production in the world, the sector faces limitations in its access to formal and fair markets, due to the use of mercury in its operations, violation of human rights, lack of gender equity, limited access to financing, informality, among others.
In this sense, the global planetGOLD initiative has developed a series of criteria that ensure that artisanal and small-scale miners ally with national projects produce gold that meets relevant environmental and social standards. The planetGOLD Criteria are made up of verification points corresponding to the CRAFT Code, OECD Due Diligence Guide, GEF policies, and Minamata Convention on Mercury requirements.
At the beginning of 2023, Inca One and planetGOLD Peru signed an alliance for the professionalization of the sector and the production of mercury-free gold. Inca One is a Canadian gold processing company that was established in Peru since 2013 and provides services to artisanal and small-scale miners. The company went through a due diligence process that evaluated aspects of legitimacy, human rights, social well-being, organizational ethics, and environment. In this process, Inca One has demonstrated an optimal progress result, managing to satisfy 96% of the variables established by the planetGOLD Criteria.
According to Iván Salas, General Manager of the company in Peru, in addition of processing gold ore and exporting doré gold Inca One provides commercial and technical support to miners under a policy of respect. Likewise, it carries out awareness-raising actions on environmental care and promotes values to prevent child labor and other negative labor practices.
Likewise, within the framework of the alliance between planetGOLD Perú and Inca One, in August 2023, 3 awareness-raising talks on the prevention of sexual harassment were held. These activities reinforce the policies already established by Inca One. In the following months, the development of a gender and social well-being strategy will be reinforced through workshops with the company's human management team to replicate the learning in its facilities.
Among the main findings of the application of the planetGOLD Criteria to Inca One, the appropriate management of mercury stands out. The plant does not use mercury to process the gold ore it acquires from artisanal and small-scale miners. On the other hand, the tailings containing gold and mercury, which are acquired in low volumes, go through a gravimetric process that allows the recovery of mercury prior to entering the production process. This mercury is stored in certified containers and guarded, preventing its recirculation in the production chain. Inca One has managed to recover more than 150 kg of mercury from mine tailings.
“As Inca One we decided to reject productive areas with bad practices and use of mercury. We try to teach our mining clients that it is a polluting substance, we are convinced of the elimination of the use of mercury in ASM” Iván Salas, General Manager Inca One in Peru
Compliance with the planetGOLD Criteria by the mining companies with which planetGOLD Peru works not only guarantees the production of mercury-free gold from small-scale and artisanal mining, but also promotes responsible and inclusive practices that socially and environmentally benefit many mining communities in Peru.
- The planetGOLD initiative is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). In Peru, it is executed by the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) in alliance with the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM) and with the technical assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).