Black communities, gold and markets: Understanding motivations for and addressing barriers to more sustainable community-based gold mining within Colombia’s Pacific Coast

Start date

Gold mining produces large environmental impacts with significant land-use conversion and pollution of both water and air, linked to mercury and other heavy metals. The communities engaged in gold mining are highly dependent on gold traders, in a context of violence, due to the illegality of most gold production. Sustainable mining initiatives such as Fairmined (FM) have sprouted in the last years to confront these challenges, with 10 mine operations certified under the FM seal, globally. Half are in Colombia, with more communities invited to join. Yet despite potential economic, social and environmental benefits, adoption of sustainable mining is very low.

The purpose of this project is twofold: i) to understand the motivations, barriers, and enabling factors that miners  and particularly women face to engage in sustainable mining operations; and ii) to explore what price premia and livelihood improvements could induce miners to shift their mining practices. We focus on two Community Councils (CC) in Afro-descendent areas: Yurumanguí in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca; and Mindalá in Suárez, Cauca. CC represent forms of collective land tenure, and could potentially aid in the implementation of more sustainable mining practices. CC have been granted communal rights to lands, implying collective action in adoption of new practices and defense against external actors. The results of our study will serve to inform improvements in both public policies and private governance initiatives that promote formalization and the adoption of sustainable mining practices.

This project was approved during the EfD Annual Meeting in 2019 and will start in 2020.

Project status
Project | 24 January 2020