Global INGO and artisanal mining specialist Pact, geotechnical services provider Magma Group, and high-end precious metal refiner and producer Aurum Monaco are pleased to announce 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, 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. 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 EPRM project seizes a unique opportunity to transform Mauritania’s emerging ASGM sector by professionalizing neglected livelihoods in rural parts of the country,” said Jorden de Haan, who is managing the project for Pact. “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.”
As Mr. Khalifa Abderhamane, CEO of Magma, explains: “Our business model is to convince miners using mercury that they can achieve better gold recovery rates with the mercury-free methods that we are going to offer. By acting across the entire supply chain, and in compliance with the new EU regulations, we will create a virtuous model that will be followed by other miners, investors and comptoirs.”
“This Project’s mission with respect to eradicating mercury is perfectly in sync with that of Aurum Monaco and of Monaco, whose leader, Prince Albert, is at the forefront of global effort to make our planet a better place,” adds Mr. Selim Fendi, CEO of Aurum Monaco. “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.”
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.
A nonprofit international development organization founded in 1971, Pact works on the ground in nearly 40 countries to improve the lives of those who are challenged by poverty and marginalization. We serve these communities because we envision a world where everyone owns their future. Pact’s Mines to Markets program uses an integrated, market-based approach and brings together government, industry and miners themselves to make ASM formal, safer and more productive.
For more information about Pact’s work in artisanal and small-scale mining, please visit www.pactworld.org/mining.
About Magma Group
Magma Group is a Maghreb-owned mine and geotechnical services contractor based and operating in Mauritania, Tunisia and Morocco. The company provides mine services, onshore, and marine geotechnical services for construction and mining sectors, as well as environmental and laboratory services. Magma has recently established Sahel Clean Gold, a private initiative with the mission to provide technical services for ASGM miners in the Sahel and West Africa.
About Aurum Monaco
Aurum Monaco’s state of the art “ Boutique” full service, precious metals refinery, licensed by the Monegasque authorities, and accredited by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), is operated almost exclusively for our own ASGM produced feedstock purchased at source as principals from small-scale miners with which we produce our own “79” branded 999,9 responsible Bullion for the world market from ESG-compliant ethical gold, meeting our own demanding standards as well as those of our world-class investor and jewelry industry clients.
Learn more at http://aurumonaco.mc.
About the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals
The EPRM is a multi-stakeholder partnership with the objective to increase the proportion of responsibly produced minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRAs) and to support socially responsible extraction of minerals that contributes to local development.
Learn more at https://europeanpartnership-responsibleminerals.eu.
Jorden de Haan
Project Manager, Pact
Director, Integrated Communications, Pact
CEO, Magma Group
CEO, Aurum Monaco