Ethical mining: the path of small-scale mining organizations

Ethical mining: the path of small-scale mining organizations

An opportunity for the market to understand the challenges that the small-mining sector has to face.

The path of ethical mining, along with the process to obtain the Fairmined certification and its benefits, bring different challenges to small scale mining organizations. They have to comply with some strict, progressive requirements every year (organizational, work-related, environmental, physical and documental traceability of Fairmined minerals) that have to be approved by external audits.

This is a path that demands commitment, dedication and determination, it implies an investment on resources (time, people and money) and working adjustments in the process towards ethical mining. It is an effort that is recognized and rewarded by the market.

Main challenges that mining organizations find on the way to the Fairmined certification, valued by the ethical market:

Challenges towards formalization

The whole mining organization must be legally constituted, even if some parts are not certified. This is a big challenge considering that worldwide 70 to 80% of small scale miners work informally. Support small scale mining formalization!


Improve working conditions

Mining organizations must implement clear policies that guarantee the wellbeing of all of their workers. This includes salaries and schedules according to the law, health and safety at work regulations (including risk control of the activities, supply of personal protection elements, and training). Labor rights in mining must be guaranteed!


Non-discrimination policy

Miners must have clear non-discrimination policies and mechanisms that guarantee equal participation and dialog of all members, as well as education to avoid gender violence. Support gender equality!


Mining organizations must establish an Internal Control System exclusively for Fairmined metal extraction and sales, guaranteeing physical and documentary traceability starting from mineral digging all the way to metal obtaining. For Fairmined sales, the transaction report on the Fairmined Connect platform guarantees mineral traceability to the market. Get to know the origin of your gold!


Environmental Protection

Ethical small-scale mining must develop progressive plans for reducing the use of chemical substances, with procedures and technologies for their proper handling that ensure minimal environmental impact. Also, they must work taking care of their surrounding environment by preserving intervened areas and recovering the ones affected. It is a great challenge to work on that considering the environment. They need advice and people who understand that small scale mining can be handled responsibly.



It is a challenge to understand gold trade and establish written commercial agreements with its Fairmined metal buyers, thus guaranteeing transparency in each sale. For this, men and women miners must have good economy knowledge, be advised and supported so their rights are respected and they can trade properly. Support fair markets!

References of good mining practices

Improving on all these aspects is not an easy task to achieve, that is why there are mining organizations that cannot keep their Fairmined certifications, or that it takes them enormous efforts to do so.

Mining organizations that reach the certification prove that with dedication, hard work and support from the market year after year, it is possible to improve mining practices. These organizations become a beacon of ethical mining and a positive transformation engine for the whole community.

Join the Fairmined initiative to support mining organizations. Summit our contact questionnaire and we will get in touch. 

Here you can get to know the stories and achievements from certified mining organizations in Colombia, Peru, and Mongolia.