Co-operatives in the mining sector can help take millions of people out of poverty

12 Dec 2014

By Rodrigo Gouveia

An interactive event taking place in Brazil brought together more than 300 representatives from 50 countries from the extractive industries, governments and civil society. As one of the speakers at the event, I talked about how governments and co-operatives can strengthen and improve the organisation of producers, in particular small and medium-sized ones, and also improve the skills of employees, leveraging opportunities for vocational training.

Co-operatives are by nature one of the best mechanisms for social development, as well as driving economic and environmental advantages. As people-centred enterprises, they create jobs and stable employment. Spanish co-operatives have proven this by increasing employment by 7.2% in 2012. This result was obtained in the context of the global recession and at a time when unemployment rate in the country reached 37%.

One of the issues explored at the conference was how mining co-operatives can drive innovation in the sector by finding ways to develop their activity without degrading the environment.

Another participant at the event was Gilson Camboim, president of the Miners Cooperative of Vale do Rio Peixoto (Coogavepe). He highlighted that co-operatives show greater engagement with the local communities, who subsequently participate more actively.

The mining sector plays an important role in the economy of Brazil, generating approximately R$3.5 trillion in annual gross revenue, explained the Secretary of Geology and Mineral Transformation from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Carlos Nogueira. 

Jessica Faieta, director and assistant administrator of the Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean of the UNDP (UNDPLAC), also said that the mining industry could take millions of people out of poverty. 

The event was promoted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), with the support of Sistema OCB, in partnership with the British Embassy in Brazil.

Photo: Rodrigo Gouveia (fourth left to right) speaking at the event in Brazil