Eco gold is gold that has been extracted without the use of mercury or cyanide, two harmful chemicals that carry both environmental and health risks for populations around mining communities. Artisanal, informal, and illegal mining are poorly regulated, but are the only source of income for many communities where little economic opportunities exist. Unbeknownst to them of the risks, these miners use mercury to separate the gold from the gravel because it's the cheapest and easiest, and its disposal is unregulated, thus it enters the local environment, contaminates the soil, water, and the atmosphere and becomes a health hazard for communities around mines because through the use of contaminated soil it enters their food chain.
Fairmined works with artisanal mines to certify them and end this practice. Mines receive an economic stimulus for each gram they collect and through continuous training and remediation programs, artisanal mines can phase out mercury and replace it with a Gravimetric table to separate the gold from the gravel. Gravimetric tables are mercury's substitution, and they can be very costly, therefore during for the first two years after becoming certified, Fairmined guides them towards its safety disposal and after the 2-year mark, mines are expected to be able to make the investment and purchase the table and completely phase out mercury from their operations. We pay a premium for Fairmined gold, but it's this premium what becomes the mine's economic stimulus and allows them to improve their practices all around.