The gold mining organisation MACDESA in Peru

Peru is one of the most important gold producing countries in the world. Besides the large international mining companies, there are many smaller mines that employ the majority of the gold mining workforce. One such mine is located at Cuatro Horas, a small village in the Atacama Desert in southern Peru. The Macdesa gold mine was Fairtrade certified for the first time in 2015.


Country: Peru

Fairtrade certified in: 2015

Main products: Gold and precious metals

Projects using Fairtrade premium

Organisation and productivity:

  • Acquisition of new machinery
  • Installation of new ventilation systems to ensure a constant supply of fresh air and prevent suffocation in the underground mine.

Workers and working conditions:

  • Purchase and use of Covid tests to protect workers in the mining camp and society from the spread of Covid 19.
  • Occupational health screening of miners to ensure their well-being.
  • Pandemic prevention equipment such as masks, disinfectants, Covid 19 tests and gloves to protect miners' health.
  • Personal protective equipment such as helmets, gloves, waistcoats, work boots and more. This ensures worker safety and increases the overall efficiency of mining operations. (2020)
  • Miners live all over the country, up to 1,200km from the mine. As a preventative measure, during COVID 19 I provided verification services from embarkation points in all major cities.
  • Purchase of food and beverages for a healthy diet for the miners.
  • Medical care for the members of the cooperative to enable good recovery and care for the affected miners.
  • Purchase of a bus to transport miners between work sites to increase the efficiency of mining operations.
  • Purchase of equipment for the safe and healthy accommodation of miners and guests.
  • Construction of sanitation facilities to ensure the health and safety of miners in the workplace.


  • Monitoring the environment and water quality to prevent accidents and predict maintenance.
  • Installation of a lead water extractor to protect the environment (especially water bodies) from lead pollution.

Social projects:

  • Christmas gifts for miners and residents of the surrounding community to strengthen the mine's institutional links with the surrounding community.

Fairtrade certification allows us to sell our gold at better conditions and invest in our community.

Santiago Ramirez Castro, compliance officer at Macdesa

In Cuatro Horas, people live almost exclusively from gold mining. Around 520 informal gold miners joined together in 2000 to form the public limited company 'Minera Aurifera Cuatro de Enero S.A.' (MACDESA). In May 2015, MACDESA was Fairtrade certified for the first time. "With Fairtrade certification, we can sell our gold at better conditions and invest in our community," reports Santiago Ramirez Castro, miner and responsible for compliance. In addition, the certification is an important step in the further development of the organisation, as the standards prescribe, among other things, measures such as protective clothing, health and safety training, and a responsible approach to the environment.

In the summer of 2015, a terrible fire raged in Cuatro Horas, where up to 3,000 people lived by then. The village was severely damaged by the fire. 90% of the dwellings fell victim to the flames, but fortunately no one was killed. It is therefore hoped that in the future, premium money from the sale of Fairtrade-certified gold will also be used to support the local population.

Use of the Fairtrade Premium

The Fairtrade premium is an important amount paid to the gold mining organisation for social projects and for projects for economic development. Among other things, the cooperative can invest in improving productivity and working conditions, for example by providing better equipment for the mine and the foundry in the form of drills, ovens and generator sets. Furthermore, the salaries of teachers who teach in the districts of Cuatro Horas and Chaparra are financed. The living conditions of the member families are also improved by modernising the shelters and buying mattresses and blankets for the workers. Member families receive financial support in case of illness or death.

In recent years, MACDESA has collected more than half a million dollars in Fairtrade premiums, built new shelters and sanitary facilities, and invested in work clothes for workers and technical equipment (pneumatic shovels, electric winches, intercoms). In addition, medical care was improved and a significant contribution was made to the electrification of Cuarto Horas.