By Boluwaji Obahopo
Stakeholders in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, ASGM, have pledged to work towards the elimination of child labour in the gold mining sector in Nigeria.
The commitment was made during a private-sector engagement workshop organized by Solidaridad in collaboration with the International Labour Organization for the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chain in Africa (ACCEL Africa Project).
A statement by Solidaridad Communication Manager, Pita Ochai said the workshop which was held in Abuja drew participants from Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, academics, and artisanal miners from Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, and Plateau states.
Solidaridad, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), organized the private sector engagement workshop to expose key stakeholders to the Code of Risk mitigation for Artisanal and small-scale Miners in engaging in Formal Trade (CRAFT Code) with particular emphasis on child labour risks and setting the stage for Public-Private Partnerships to support the elimination of child labour in the ASGM sector in Nigeria.
Yaw Britwum Opoku, programme manager, Responsible Mining, Solidaridad, said: “CRAFT helps to bridge the gap between legitimate artisanal producers and refiners, jewellers, electronics companies, banks, and other supply chain actors.”
The participants are to identify relevant laws that will enable the private sector and other businesses in the elimination of child labour, ensure the support of stakeholders to enforce the child rights acts and conventions, and encourage corporate social responsibility (CRS) of private sectors operating along the gold supply chain, and as well create public enlightenment on the risks of child labour.
Ojeka Patrick, Director, Department of artisanal and small-scale mining, federal ministry of mines and steel development, while declaring the program open said that the ministry has over the years made concerted efforts to eliminate child labour in the mining sector through sensitization, advocacy, awareness creation and the establishment of enabling environment for children who live in mine host communities to have normal and decent lives.
Vanessa Phala, ILO director of country officer for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the liaison office for ECOWAS, said the CRAFT Code is a unique tool that can contribute to enhancing the formalization of the ASGM sector by promoting its sustainable social, environmental, and economic development through the implementation of due diligence practices in the framework of both international regulations and national laws.
“In particular, it is designed to help both upstream and downstream players in the value chain to assess critical social and environmental risks, with a specific focus on empowering artisanal miners to improve their practices in order to create better working environments as well as access to global markets and better trading conditions,” she said.