Peruvian miner reveals hardships and speaks of hope for future.
Weston Beamor showed its support of Fairtrade gold by inviting representatives of the Peruvian mining community to its stand at The Jewellery Show, where it was promoting its involvement with the metal.
The jewellery company will be one of the first jewellery manufacturers to offer the newly certified Fairtrade gold.
Speaking to Professional Jeweller through a translator, miner Juana Pena Endora told of the hardships faced by many miners. She spoke of the freezing temperatures in the high altitudes and the dirty water the workers have to deal with in order to mine the gold, but said that the Fairtrade certification would certainly make the process better for the workers as they will get a fair price for the gold they mine.
She said: “We work in a protected area [similar to a National Heritage site] so we always had lots of regulation but we always wanted to be responsible. Having a better price for the gold means every day, day by day, the work gets better.”
Endora has spend 15 years working for the mine and turned to the difficult and often dangerous work to support her four children as she is a single mother. She said: “The work is difficult, so accidents have happened in the past, but you acclimatise to what you are doing.”
To protect themselves from the elements the workes wear protective clothing such as rubber boots, oversized jackets and gloves. Workers mine 1,000 sqm plots that are mined 24 hours a day with the workers splitting the workload into three eight-hour shifts.
Weston Beamor director Yvonne Brookes said: “It is wonderful that we begin to understand both sides. We work with gold every single day but we have no understanding of the work it has taken to get it out of the ground. And I feel it is as important for the miners to come here and see what we’ve done with the metal.
“We’ve swapped contact details and have opened a dialogue. Town matches with town so why can’t a jewellery industry match with a mining community?”
Brookes was confident that the industry will be keen to get involved with Fairtrade gold. She said: “There are some who will want to become involved very quickly and some who will want to take a slower approach, just as we’ve seen happen with other [Fairtrade] products.”