Bahia Golden Rutilated Quartz Mine, A Model for Artisinal Gem Mining as a Foundation for Sustainable Economic Growth
Responsible Sourcing Initiative: connecting small scale artisanal mining with the consumer.
Objective: Imagine, develop, and implement a model project that can be replicated using the natural capital resource from a region of artisanal small scale mining for gemstone as the foundation for “sustainable” economic development, environmental stewardship, and community security. Connect the story from source to consumer.
The Setting: A remote village, Remedios, Novo Horizonte, situated at the western edge of the Chapada Diamantina in the state of Bahia, Brazil. Latitude S 13 degree, at 900-1200 meter elevation. The plateau is a confluence of 3 diverse biomes, the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest (Mata Atlantica), the Serrado, and the Caatinga, resulting in exotic rare plant diversity.
Value added at the source. Sorting, processing, cleaning, introduce basic cutting & bead making. Empower Women. Focus on training women (not exclusive) in bead making and basic lapidary, all profits to the workers. This photo shows a weekly market for the women to sell the stones they collected.
Legalize not marginalize. Register miners in a co-op, legalize mining areas. (over 700 garimpeiros have been added to the cooperatives)
Transparency. Create a certificate of origin and pay the required taxes to municipality and state for proper export. This view is the tunnel access to the Pyramid Mine.
Regenerative agriculture. Food security. Carbon sequestration. Implement organic and permaculture gardens connecting to France 4/1000initiative, UN food security.
Cultural sustainability, respect and celebrate the unique culture from the region. This group of children were playing in the village Remedios. The natural blending of cultures and race.
Real world example:
Located in a remote region of the Chapada Diamantina in Bahia, Brazil, the objective of this initiative is to brand the unique rutilated quartz gemstones found here to add value to the community and empower women by training in basic cutting skills. Up to 2500 artisanal miners including women, and their families depend on this resource. Beyond supporting the infrastructure to mine and process the stones (including improving mine safety), the plan is to create sustainable methods of growing food, supporting an elementary school, and emphasizing environmental stewardship. It is contemplated that our model will be able to be replicated in other artisanal mining settings.
The initial task of gaining support from the community, federal, state, and municipal government in the region has already been achieved by Brian Cook’s efforts in formalizing land and mining rights, legalizing miners through cooperatives.
Creating the infrastructure to support the initiative is needed. A facility to process stones, teach cutting skills, with a residence and garden including additional rooms for visitors to observe and participate. A Kickstart project promoted industry wide should be able to raise money for this vital infrastructure.