An estimated 100 million people worldwide rely on small-scale mining to support their families, that’s 90% of gold miners globally, says The Fairtrade Foundation. The problem: In non-Fairtrade small-scale gold mines, miners rely on using toxic chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, which is harmful for human health and the environment – simply because they cannot afford safer processing methods.
This can cause birth defects, brain and kidney damage for miners, and contaminates water supplies and poisons fish. Small-scale gold mining is the largest source of mercury pollution to air and water combined, says Fairtrade. Because of their poverty, small-scale miners are also exploited by traders and rarely receive a fair price, even when the world gold price rises, as they are usually offered below the market price. Therefore, miners struggle to generate enough profit which makes it difficult to invest in safer mining practices. Mining is also one of the worst forms of child labour.
Certified Fairtrade Gold means, that small-scale and artisanal miners receive a guaranteed minimum price for their gold. An extra amount of money is given to invest in education, medical care or environmental projects.
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