Visiting the Mines: SOTRAMI (Peru)

The SOTRAMI gold mine in Santa Filomena has been the first Fairtrade-certified mine in Peru since 2011. The Fairtrade premiums have already been used to build a health center and renovate the village school.

Peru is one of the most important countries in global gold mining. Large international mining companies leave serious environmental damage in their wake. However, the majority of the gold mining workforce is employed in small-scale mines. Here, conflicts around illegal mining activities are among the challenges.

Miners in Santa Filomena, a small village in the Atacama Desert in southern Peru, took a different path. In the 1980s, in the wake of an economic crisis, the region became increasingly populated by miners who tried their luck prospecting for gold in abandoned mountain tunnels. These initially informal gold prospectors joined in 1989 to form the cooperative "Sociedad de Trabajadores Mineros" (Sotrami S.A.) and acquired official mining licenses.

On this basis, the cooperative worked with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Peruvian development organizations, which helped introduce labor standards and abolish child labor. In 2004, Santa Filomena was declared a "child-labor-free-zone."

In May 2011 - after an intensive two-year auditing process by the certification organization FLOCERT - SOTRAMI became the first Fairtrade-certified mine in Peru.

At FAIREVER, part of the gold and silver used - especially for the Fairtrade gold bars - comes from the SOTRAMI gold mine. 

Projects realized from the Fairtrade premiums:

  • Construction and maintenance of a health center
  • Payment for dental visits
  • Support of the village school in various areas
  • Renovation of classrooms, construction of a school playground, etc.
  • Improvement of access and transport routes to the mines
  • Financing the electrification of the village administration, post office and school building

SOTRAMI workers receive regular medical check-ups and are trained on safety standards, including responsible handling of chemicals (unfortunately not entirely avoidable in Peru's arid highlands) and safety in the tunnels. "The miners must always wear their safety equipment, because it is very important that the workers can work in good health, calm and concentrated," explains Benjamín Vasquez, one of the gold miners.

Women also work for SOTRAMI S.A. in Santa Filomena - not directly in the tunnels, because this would allegedly bring bad luck, but as so-called 'pallaqueras', who are responsible for pre-sorting the gold-bearing rock. The women are organized in a cooperative and divide their income among themselves at the end of each month.

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