Going for gold in a new partnership

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Building a foundation for better gold mining in Uganda

Gold is an essential material in smartphones and other electronics. Its scarcity and unique properties make it one of the world’s most valuable metals. But gold mining practices, especially at the artisanal level, require major changes to improve the safety and well-being of the miners.

Our goals:

  • Contribute to more responsible gold mining in Uganda

  • Prevent/reduce child labor by tackling the issues at the root of the problem

  • Increase economic prosperity with improved mining equipment and capacity building trainings

  • Provide long-term, sustainable access to international markets

  • Monitor and share results to expand impact and encourage other supply chains and industries to replicate best practices

We believe in creating a positive impact in the regions that most urgently need improvements. That’s why we’ve formed an innovative partnership with Hivos/Stop Child Labour (SCL), UNICEF, Fairtrade Foundation, Royal Philips, and Solidaridad to proactively support more responsible gold sourcing. By combining our expertise in the areas of preventing child labor, improving working conditions and providing a clear path to market, we aim to work with artisanal and small-scale mines (ASM) in Uganda to establish a sustainable, traceable gold supply chain that creates a better future for miners and their families.

This partnership is made possible thanks to the support of Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

Why we are involved

“To impact the hardest to reach miners, we have learned that business-as-usual doesn’t always work. Innovation and collaboration are key – which is why we’re excited to be working with business, the UN and civil society to tackle child labour in Uganda together”

David Finlay, Programme Manager

Fairtrade Foundation

"We can only fight child labour in gold mining if we support miners to change their practices and address root cause of child labour, including: poverty and poor access to education. We are happy to partner with the electronic sector and civil society to accelerate this process in Uganda."

Yrene Coli Rivera, Programme Manager Gold

Solidaridad

“With this partnership, Fairphone sets a precedent for others in the (electronics) industry. It’s a good example of the wide potential for positive change in complex industries. Joining forces and getting to the bottom of the supply chain isn’t the easiest way, but it’s the most impactful to source more fair materials.”

Gersom Aliaga Ferrufino, Value chain fund manager

Fairphone

“Through the area-based approach, child labour free zones can be created. The people living in these areas are convinced that all children should go to school and so they work together to make that happen. In child labour free zones, everyone’s rights are advanced.”

Akky de Kort, Technical Advisor

Hivos / Stop Child Labour

"This partnership will show what can be done to reduce the negative impact of mining on the lives and future of children. UNICEF will use the evidence to engage both the private sector, the Chamber of Mines, the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Gender and Social Development to implement policies that support Children’s Rights in Uganda."

Pauline Neefjes, Senior Advisor

UNICEF

Project summary

Project interventions took place at four levels – national and district, community and school, mine, and supply chain levels – key actors that need to be involved in the root causes of child labor at ASM sites. Three goals were identified for this program: 1) preventing and combating child labor; 2) improving health & safety at mine sites; and 3) increasing ASM miners’ access to investment while creating a clear path to formal markets.

Summary of results:

  1. An increase in knowledge among government officials has led to more involvement at the district and national levels.

  2. Motivation centers were set up to support children and youth who dropped out of school and/or are working, by helping them reintegrate back into school. Results showed that 65 children mainstreamed back into school (primary/secondary/vocational), while 86 youth received vocational training.

  3. Among the miners surveyed, 85% positively changed their attitude, including behaviour, towards child labor since receiving project-related interventions.

  4. The main result at the supply chain level was the development of the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Performance & Risk Management Handbook for Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining.

Find out more:

  • Inspiring practices in Busia Uganda

    This project is close to our hearts as it allows us to create impact and actively be a part of the change we want to see in the industry.

    Read more
  • ACL Project: Full project evaluation

    Tackling child labor and encouraging fair, sustainable and safe mining practices is the reason Fairphone was born.

    Read more
  • How we got Fairtrade certified gold in the Fairphone 2 supply chain

    Smartphones contain dozens of minerals sourced from every corner of the globe, including gold, which is commonly used in printed circuit boards…

    Read more

Good to know

Here are just a few reasons why we’re partnering to improve gold mining conditions, starting in Uganda.

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    Uganda has a historic gold mining tradition and a large concentration of artisanal and small-scale mines (ASM).

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    Most of Uganda’s gold mining activities are unlicensed. This can lead to smuggling, human rights abuses, environmental damage and major health concerns.

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    An estimated 50,000 small-scale miners work in Uganda’s gold mines. Up to 30% (15,000 people) might be children.

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    Child labor is a significant issue throughout Uganda, driven by high levels of poverty and an education system with limited resources.

Our partners

Get in touch

For more information or interview requests regarding this partnership, please contact:

Fairphone – Fabian Hühne
Fairtrade Foundation – Emily McCoy
Solidaridad Network – Bram Verkerke

Together we can change the way products are made

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