Created in 1997, Cumbre del Sajama is a Bolivian organisation that helps cooperatives and mining communities. The organisation offers services for socio-economic development through its team of professionals who are experts in social, legal and environmental issues related to mining. These services are provided in order to promote corporate social responsibility.
Through its activities, Cumbre del Sajama pays particular attention to the empowerment and equity of women and uses training as a means to tackle violence against women. Concerning environmentally friendly measures, the organisation tries to progressively eliminate the use of mercury, and raises awareness about waste treatment and water and soil pollution. These initiatives aim to improve the quality of life for the workers and the environment in which they work.
Thanks to a project implemented in 2011 by Cumbre del Sajama, the mining cooperative Cotapata was able to produce the first gold ingot certified by Fairtrade and FM. This project was financially supported by the TDC for 67,707 euros over 1 year and 5 months. During this period, the project rigorously tested the various criteria, evaluated the traceability of the gold and raised the miners’ awareness of the principles of fair trade. Other mines in Peru, Colombia and Ecuador then embarked on the certification process, following the example set by the Cotapata cooperative.
In addition to obtaining certification, the project also consisted of ensuring better tracing of the gold (not achieved), and setting up procedures to host inspections and certifiers (achieved because certification was obtained). The project also aimed to maintain a better relationship between the government and the gold mines through the promotion of responsible mining and to involve women in the leadership and management process (partially achieved).
Despite Fairtrade certification, there was no real economic impact as the cooperative did not increase its sales. However, in terms of social and environmental impact, thanks to the activities put in place to achieve certification, the social conditions of the miners have also improved.