Mining is one of the most environmentally and socially destructive practices. Large scale mining, in particular, destroys ecosystems and inflicts hardships on local communities for the profit of a few. Efforts to develop responsible mining go back two decades. While there is much to be done in order to transform small mining into an industry compatible with both the environment and the needs of local communities, a first good example of ecological mining began in the Choco region of western Colombia about four years ago (see www.greengold-oroverde.org). Here, sustainable, certified small scale or artisanal mining has been designed to avoid the destruction of forests, impoverishment of water quality and the use of toxins.
Inspired by the Choco project, a new effort to promote 'green' mining among small and artisanal miners began brewing among groups and people trying to find solutions to the environmental and social impacts of large-scale commercial mining operations. Dubbed 'green gold', the idea is to develop mining practices which restore local biodiversity in mining areas and establish sustainable local economies.
In September 2001, Both Ends hosted a meeting of a small group of people to talk about setting up an international group that will promote responsible mining for artisanal and small mining communities. The groundwork for the establishment of this international group continued on over the past three years resulting in the founding of the Association for Responsible Mining (ARM), which took place in Quito, Ecuador on the 9th of July 2004.
The purpose of ARM will be to establish universally accepted standards and criteria for the certification of ecologically sound community responsible mining practices; to provide advice to communities of "green" miners and mining industries, facilitate the identification of markets for ecologically mined minerals and gems (gold, platinum, silver and gem stones) and raise awareness about this new branch of mining. ARM will also act as a liaison between all facets of ecological mining, industry and the public. In the long term, ARM's task will be to see that small scale responsible mining practices become at least as widely adopted as organic farming and forest stewardship systems.
ARM Bulletin No. 1
Responsible Mining from the Ground Up: Developing Regulations and Certification Criteria
Association for Responsible Mining (ARM)
Communities and Small-Scale Mining (CASM)