Communication about Minera Yanaquihua

New at Swiss Better Gold

Minera Yanaquihua, a Swiss Better Gold accredited small gold producer which operates two mining units in Peru and works with more than 250 artisanal miners that provide around 30% of its production. On May 6th, 2023, one of the mining units operated by Minera Yanaquihua suffered a tragic accident resulting in 27 casualties. Swiss Better Gold shares its deepest condolences with the families affected by this tragedy, local communities and Minera Yanaquihua.

Following the accident, the mine’s emergency procedures were activated, and rescuing units went to the scene. In parallel, Peruvian authorities were notified, and the necessary personnel and equipment were sent on site.

These combined efforts led to the evacuation of 175 miners who were at work inside the mine at the time of the accident. Minera Yanaquihua also undertook urgent and necessary measures to provide moral and financial support to the families of the victims and facilitated all administrative procedures to activate pensions and insurance due to the relatives of all victims. Wages will be maintained for 32 months following the accident, and the widow's pension includes support for children's education. Affected families have also received assistance and much needed psychological support.

While artisanal mining activities have not been affected by the accident and Minera Yanaquihua maintained its processing facility in operation, the investigation into the root causes of the accident which happened in one of the mine’s galleries is still ongoing.

The Swiss Better Gold Initiative has been collaborating with Minera Yanaquihua since 2019, focusing its efforts on supporting the improvement of the conditions of the mining activities as well as on the formalization of over 250 artisanal producers on the mine’s concession, thus facilitating their inclusion into international supply chains. To make the establishment of such a value chain possible, Swiss Better Gold has supported Minera Yanaquihua with technical advice and financial support in specific projects leading to a strengthening of the operation’s due diligence practices on artisanal miners. The initiative conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA) to establish a baseline for the operation’s carbon emissions, its impact on biodiversity and assessed its use of water. Further, the initiative also supported the mine’s efforts in obtaining the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and the International Cyanide Management Code (ICMI) certifications. RJC and ICMI are recognised standards, with high level requirements for this type of mines. RJC and ICMI auditors regularly perform on-site inspections and verify compliance with their respective requirements.

Swiss Better Gold will review the mine’s action plan once the investigation concludes and is committed to continue providing support to the mine.

This tragedy underscores the importance of the industry support to improve the working conditions of artisanal and small-scale gold mining and the formalization of this sector. The accident is also a stark reminder of the risks associated with extraction and the fragility of the local context. It underlines the necessity of not abandoning these producers to their fate and reminds us of our responsibility as buyers and consumers of gold-containing products.

Through Swiss Better Gold, our Association members engage in on-site efforts to improve ASGM social and environmental conditions. By remaining steadfast and committed alongside these producers, learning from necessary lessons, we can collectively create on the ground positive impact.

Swiss Better Gold Association

September 2023