We build ethical jewellery. We believe in developing social innovation in mining. We work extensively in international policy, education and social venture to support sustainable peace-based economies.
The following images and descriptions are a selection of projects that we have worked on in mining communities in Africa and South America, in partnership with organizations such as the United Nations, the US Agency for International Development, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
An artisanal miner uses mercury to amalgamate his gold.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization estimates that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) results in the release of over 1000 tones of mercury annually, accounting for more than 30% of global mercury emissions. Miners and their families are often the victims of mercury neurotoxicity, as they burn off the mercury to extract the gold. These vapors are especially dangerous as they reach the brain directly through inhalation.
BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
A miner crosses the Ubangi river to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Miners often dive to collect gravel from rivers, in hopes of finding metal or diamonds. Here in the Central African Republic, the water spirit Mamma Wadi is thought to be responsible for the accidents and drownings that occur during this process. This adds an additional layer of complexity in discussions of labor practices and safety.
An artisanal miner walks between vertical mining shafts, seen here as a series of holes.
Vertical mining shafts are used here to prospect for diamonds. Mine collapses and oxygen deprivation are a common cause of injury and fatality in artisanal mining.
GOUM, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
A local chief and miner lead us to a diamond pit. The site was part of USAID’s Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development Project (PRADD).
The vast majority of miners are unregistered and unprotected, leaving them vulnerable to violence and exploitation. It is challenging to begin to address issues such as sustainable mining practices and child labor when miners are operating illegally. As such, land and tenure initiatives such as PRADD are critical to building a foundation for further change.
Security is high at Rutongo Mines.
Rutongo is the first mine to be certified as conflict-free by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, an initiative in partnership with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A relatively sophisticated processing plant in Porto Velo, Ecuador. Employees work to extract gold from ore with the use of cyanide. Under the supervision of faculty from the University of British Columbia, the plant is experimenting in eliminating mercury use.
As mercury is such a stable element in the environment, researchers explore alternative methods of gold extraction. With proper treatment, cyanide can be neutralized to an organic fertilizer, making it a possible replacement for mercury
GOUM, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
A miner in an open diamond pit.
Building on the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development Project’s land and tenure initiatives, USAID sought to create a traceable and transparent diamond supply chain. The project would give miners direct access to international buyers, while ensuring compliance with legalities, labor standards and children’s rights. Miners were further supported through the development of equipment rental pools, diamond valuation workrooms, access to microfinancing and geological training.
Diamond miner digs by hand.
The EU and USAID's Property Rights for Artisanal Diamond Development project seeks to build a peace-based mining economy following ten years of civil war.
Two rivers converge. Upstream to the right are 17 gold processing plants, where tailings are discarded into the water. The concentration of ore is visible. Downstream in Peru, birth defects, developmental disabilities and cancer are rampant.
The residual elemental mercury in the tailings becomes methylmercury through microbial activity. Methylmercury is highly toxic and it impacts the food chain downstream through bioaccumulation.