In the context of artisanal mining, a miners’ cooperative refers to an organization of miners residing in the same region, established for their mutual benefit. Through cooperatives, members can benefit from training to improve mining methods and labour conditions, bargaining power to market their products and development of alternative livelihoods. Cooperatives provide a wide range of benefits to artisanal miners and governments:
• Improve the miners’ capacity to advocate for rights and benefits with governments and buyers, such as fair pricing, working conditions and land rights.
• Increase ability to organize access to new markets.
• Facilitate licensing.
• Reduce vulnerability of miners from middlemen.
• Increase the ability of miners to seek alternative livelihoods.
Following registration of miners, DDI helps organize registered artisanal miners into associations and supports them to become democratic and financially autonomous organizations. DDI provides training on cooperative governance and conflict resolution, and supports the election of a management team. Members of the association receive training on project management, entrepreneurship and economics. They are guided in developing a business plan and a specific action plan. DDI also facilitates the development of a miner investment program, including benefit sharing structures and use of a bank account. Training is offered on improved mining methods and where relevant, the Maendeleo Diamond Standard system or other development standards may be introduced. DDI accompanies cooperatives through the legalization process, from miner registration to provincial and national licensing of cooperatives, to the granting of an artisanal mining zone for mining operations.