Mining is a historically dangerous and challenging sector, but UK-based Shondilo Gold Mining Ventures Ltd is aiming to help change the way artisan and small-scale mining (ASM) operators work with the launch of much-needed equipment ( trucks, miners lamp,etc ), management, safe working practices and training opportunities.
Shondilo Gold Mining Ventures is working towards a gold standard to improve conditions, training and technology for operators. It is on a mission to empower artisanal mining communities across Africa, many of which work in extremely unsafe conditions to mine the precious stones and metals that often find their way to European markets. At their destination, there is little awareness of the environmental damage, poor pay and working conditions this type of small-scale mining inflicts.
According to the World Bank, approximately 20% of gold, diamond and tin is mined from the informal ASM sector along with 80 – 85% of sapphires, showing the sheer scale of output generated by these informal and low-tech operations.
Many ASM operators turn to this type of work following the end of the main agricultural season. Pay is often poor and conditions harsh, with low technology operations, lack of health and safety, healthcare, technical support and expertise all resulting in low productivity levels, which in turn lead to low pay for workers already living in poverty.
Not only does ASM have a detrimental impact on communities in Africa, but the environmental damage caused is shown to be contributing to soil erosion, deforestation and is widely attributed to be the biggest source of mercury pollution.
With professional sites repurposed or rewilded once the natural resources have been exploited, many ASM sites are left vacant with no efforts to restore them after use which can be dangerous and environmentally damaging.
Darracq Shawe, Founder of Shondilo Gold Mining Ventures, said: “We understand that to help lift informal artisan miners out of poverty, we need to improve mechanisation and safety in order to help develop production and efficiency. This will lead to increased revenues that will help change local communities for the better.
“That’s why we will have developed a project-based approach which will help to develop partnerships with ASM mining communities, families and individuals to promote a range of positive outcomes. All revenue will be ploughed back into the initiative to empower communities by improving processes, health and safety and to reduce the environmental impact that ASM is shown to have on the planet.”