Case Study - Iquira
Iquira Agro-Mineral Cooperative - Huila - Colombia
From Coffee Beans to Gold Nuggets
The Iquira Municipality Agro-Mineral Cooperative (Cooperativa Multiactiva Agrominera del Municipio de Iquira) are a model example of how coffee, plantain, livestock farming and gold mining can coexist sustainably. Gold mining has provided the community with diversified economic alternatives where community members alternate between artisanal mining and farming.
Lovingly Protecting their Community
Their close relationship with local agriculture has instilled a respect for their environment and the co-operative members have been eager to implement the responsible social and environmental practices learned through their pursuit of Fairmined certification.
"No one is born knowing everything," said the cooperative’s General Manager, Jose Ignacio. “We are eager to participate in as much training as we can.”
Characterized by a strong sense of unity and loving spirit, the Iquira cooperative has become very conscious of mining’s potential impacts on their community through the Fairmined workshops and training.
"We don’t want our families, our neighbors and their children to be harmed by contamination," said the General Manager. "We are seeking 100% decontamination."
History of Responsibility
This desire to mine responsibly has long characterized the cooperative.
Thanks to early community organizing efforts, the local miners/coffee cultivators organized to form the Cooperative in 2004 and received their official licenses and registration through the Colombian government.
Small-scale mining plays an important role in the local community. The 76 miners support approximately 450 people through their work. With increased income thanks to mining, the community has greater opportunities and an amplified long-term business vision.
The Cooperative currently employs 76 people (5 women), 31 of which are cooperative members with another 45 contracted workers. The number of workers can fluctuate between 40-60. All the workers have formal contracts including social security and health care insurance and are all from neighboring farming communities, providing important local employment opportunities.
Monthly production averages 2,6kg/month but can vary depending on various factors from 1,2kg - 4,6kg/month. They are currently investing in improving their processing plants and opening new shafts, with expected production to eventually double.
Gold is processed using local in-house smelting methods to produce gold doré ingots. They use two distinct processes, one which yields a higher grade doré of 996-998 purity while the other process yields a lower grade concentrate of 680 purity.
They are divided into 9-11 working groups, with each group accumulating their monthly production for sale at the end of every month, generally between the 25th-30th.
The Alliance for Responsible Mining is able to support this community thanks to our projects with the Inter-American Development Bank and its Multilateral Investment Fund.
Above information provided by www.fairmined.org.
Read More Mining Community Profiles on the Fairmined website.
To learn more about how about you can support organizations like IQUIRA and make a real difference to the lives of miners and their communities, CLICK HERE.