Why is Fairtrade better for the environment?
Mine in East Africa working towards Fairtrade Certification.
Working with mercury safely
The use of mercury in gold amalgamation processes has detrimental effects on the environment; water systems and plant life are affected. Mercury also has negative effects on miners health; vapours are absorbed by miners who do not have access to technologies that prevent mercury from entering the atmosphere. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and vital organs, such as lungs and kidneys. Mercury reinforces the poverty cycle for miners. Miners are dependent on mercury to amalgamate gold, and buy the mercury for a high price from the buyers who sell on their gold to a chain of buyers for a higher price. Miners working in mines that are not certified by Fairtrade, do not get a fair price for their gold. The Fairtrade Premium ensures that expensive technologies such as retorts, known as gold catchers, can be purchased to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals. Other toxic chemicals emitted into the atmosphere include cyanide and arsenic. If cyanide enters waters supplies, miners and the local community often have to leave the area to prevent ingestion. Fairtrade seeks to eliminate the use of mercury through investment in Gold catchers, however it will take a long time to ensure the mines have the money to invest in such equipment, in the mean time, Fairtrade train miners to use mercury safely. Fairtrade certification to Fairtrade standards means that where possible toxic chemicals will be eliminated or controlled to keep the community safe.