Pact, Magma Group and Aurum Monaco partner to make the business case for responsible artisanal gold in Mauritania
PACT, Global INGO and artisanal mining specialist, Magma Group geotechnical services provider and high-end precious metal refiner, and Aurum Monaco producer have recently announced a new partnership that will demonstrate the business case for a responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector in Mauritania.
Funded by the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM), the three-year project, entitled “Business Pilot for Responsible Mauritanian ASM Gold,” will address an array of needs in Mauritania’s unique and emerging ASGM sector.
Around 2015, artisanal miners discovered shallow gold in Inchiri Province, leading to a rapid spread in ASGM activities targeting shallow gold deposits using manual methods. It has been estimated that up to 50,000 people are directly involved in the sector, which provides indirect unemployment for another 150,000 people – providing a livelihood for 5% of Mauritania’s relatively small population.
However, the sector is completely informal and lacks access to training, equipment, finance and supply chain transparency. Consequently, the sector is vulnerable to intrusion from insurgent groups in the Sahel region, and miners rely on inefficient processing methods, emitting large quantities of mercury, affecting human health and the environment.
Most of the workers in the pits are from an economically-precarious category of the population and descendants of slaves. Further down the supply chain, forgerons – in origin a marginalized caste of blacksmiths – smelt gold using unsafe practices and equipment, blocking their professionalization and socio-economic empowerment. Indeed, the sector lacks refining and jewelry-making capacity, undermining its potential for value addition and formal market access.
Nevertheless, the Ministère du Pétrole, des Mines et de l’Énergie has recently undertaken promising actions to reform the sector, including through the establishment of MAADEN – a specialized agency mandated with formalizing the ASGM sector and supporting its adoption of sustainable mining practices.
The new Pact-Magma-Aurum project will work to address these challenges and seize the momentum for transforming the sector. Together, the project’s partners will support the country’s ASGM miners and forgerons to adopt improved methods for processing and smelting gold and making jewelry, with reduced environmental and health impacts. As a result of the project, local stakeholders will be strengthened organizationally and supported to operate in compliance with national regulations and international standards.
“This EPRM project seizes a unique opportunity to transform Mauritania’s emerging ASGM sector by professionalizing neglected livelihoods in rural parts of the country. With our private partners’ commitment to responsible gold trade, we hope to not only support the sector’s sustainable development, but also pre-emptively prevent its capture by armed forces active in the wider Sahel region.”Jorden de Haan, who is managing the project for Pact.
By establishing an exporting company under Magma’s Sahel Clean Gold initiative, the partners aim to establish a transparent and ‘clean’ supply chain from Mauritania’s gold mines to Aurum’s refinery in Monaco – providing miners with access to the global market. Government and regional stakeholders will further be strengthened on due diligence and the new EU Conflict Minerals Regulation, and engaged to ensure project interventions can be scaled sustainably.
“This Project’s mission with respect to eradicating mercury is perfectly in sync with that of Aurum Monaco and of Monaco, as H.S.H Prince Albert II, is at the forefront of global effort to make our planet a better place.
The quality of life of the men and women living in the communities from which we source our gold is as precious to us as the fine gold our refinery produces for our customers, equally concerned as to the origin, ecology, sustainability and the social impact of the products we supply them with.”Mr. Selim Fendi, CEO of Aurum Monaco
The project will primarily work with ASGM miners operating in Chami and Zouerat, forgerons, Ministère du Pétrole, des Mines et de l’Énergie, and MAADEN – which has expressed its keen interest in and support of the project. The work will also benefit gold traders and exporters.