The Program Oro Verde (Green Gold) began in Chocó, an important bioregion of Colombia in 1999. Mining families of this region have been living from artisanal mining activities and have inherited this knowledge, considered sustainable techniques for the extraction of gold and platinum, from their ancestors.
The Program is grounded on the Alliance between Amigos del Chocó Foundation (AMICHOCO), the community council of Tadó (ASOCASAN), the Community Council of Condoto (CONDOMACOIRO), and Las Mojarras Foundation (FUNDAMOJARRAS), with the support of the IIAP (Environmental Research Institute of the Pacific (Oro Verde, s.f.). These organizations perform supervision, guidance, and coordination of activities at the community level, thus reducing illegal resource extraction and use. The alliance organizations also get involved with capacities development as they provide technical assistance to miner groups, who have obtained the Fair Trade certification of artisanal gold. These grassroots organizations are also responsible for ensuring compliance with certification criteria.
These green mining techniques do not employ chemicals such as cyanide or mercury. Likewise, the array of techniques utilized by miners have specific methods that take advantage of the abundance of water during the rainy season, explaining Oro Verde’s reduced water footprint.
The families own the land collectively and sell their products to the world´s market, whose buyers pay a premium which is reinvested in local development projects. Investment decisions for these projects are taken collectively by the Chocó Bioregion mining families, shedding light on the widespread community engagement. The fair price paid for sustainable gold provides a decent living to the mining communities, who are incentivized to continue extracting their resources in a sustainable fashion. The economic aspect can be an important driver to encourage the replication of this experience in other mineral and metal producing countries.
As awareness levels of sustainability in the mining sector grow, consumers and retailers demand more information about the origin of their precious metals, and Oro Verde has been a pioneer in developing the first model for a metal supply chain that enables tracing the metals sold by Oro Verde mining community.
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