Since 2019, we have worked with the mining cooperative COOPEDA in Dabakala, to implement the Just Gold traceability and due diligence system. Over the course of the project, the cooperative has produced 27 kg of traceable and legal gold. While the project faced challenges in securing a consistent buyer for the traceable gold, 1.7 kg was exported to an LBMA refiner—representing the first legal and traceable artisanal gold from Côte d’Ivoire to the international market.

The Just Gold project supports artisanal gold miners, a mining cooperative in Dabakala, traders, and exporters to ensure artisanal gold in Côte d’Ivoire is produced and sold according to international standards. The Just Gold project provides evidence of traceability allowing international buyers to track their gold to the pit it was mined it and supports private sector actors to complete due diligence on their supply chain.

During the project, COOPEDA implemented significant internal reorganization to improve processes and increase transparency, in an effort to enter the formal international market. The cooperative revised how it is governed, reforming its Board of Directors, implementing a supervisory Board, as well as introducing numerous committees to work on cross-cutting issues such as environment, gender equality, as well as worker health and safety.

Importantly, the role of women in governing the cooperative has also shifted over time. Now 15 of the cooperative’s 58 members are women—representing a major increase since there were none registered before.

As a result of its restructuring, as well as revised statutes, new policies, and internal regulations, COOPEDA is now equipped to meet the legal and regulatory requirements of the sector in Côte d’Ivoire. COOPEDA is sharing its experiences with other emerging cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire as good practice.

The cooperative has taken steps to support its miners including by posting signage for health and safety, providing personal protective equipment, securing separate sanitary facilities for women and men, as well as acting on numerous recommendations from IMPACT’s environmental impact assessment.

COOPEDA has continued traceability throughout 2021-2022 and past the end of the project. In a major milestone, the cooperative—together with its Ivorian partner exporter, SICOM—identified an international buyer and carried out two legal and traceable exports of gold in late 2021 to Europe.

Both supply chain actors are taking the reigns to expand access in the international market, not only continuing their responsible business practices gained through capacity building, but marketing themselves and the artisanal mining sector. COOPEDA and SICOM traveled to France to represent Côte d’Ivoire at the mineral industry fair in November 2021. SICOM has also announced plans to open a branch in Paris.

Locally, COOPEDA has embraced its role as a catalyst for economic development in the local community. It channels funding for community infrastructure, most recently building and opening an addition to the local public school. It also helps to address challenges in the community, such as tackling youth unemployment, which can contribute to increased crime or illegal road blocks.

For more information about the Just Gold project, visit IMPACT’s website.

The Just Gold project in Côte d’Ivoire was undertaken with the financial support of the European Union from January 2019 to October 2021.

Photo: Tommy Trenchard/IDRC