You don’t have to go all the way to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to see the power and potential of artisanal gold mining…but it helps. And that is exactly what Stonecrest Principal Owner and President Jon Freeman did with a group of members from the Artisanal Gold Council, a non-profit, global expert in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

And what is artisanal gold mining? Artisanal gold miners are small-scale (often individual) miners who work small plots of land that might have been overlooked or deemed too difficult to mine by industrial mining operations. These miners are akin to subsistence farmers in that they often do it as a sole way to make a living. It can be very difficult work and presents certain safety risks that can be fairly easily identified and rectified.

But it turns out, as Mr. Freeman discovered, that these miners are right in the “Capitalism with a Conscience” wheelhouse. With some basic technology, a small investment, and the benefits of scale, the Artisanal miners can increase access to markets, reduce risk, and grow revenue.

To that end, Stonecrest has partnered with the Artisanal Gold Council to form RGTM Gold Corp. RGTM’s short-term focus is on working with artisanal gold miners to improve conditions as follows:

1) Increase gold recovery, yield and returns to boost the miners’ incomes

2) Reduce and eliminate mercury use to improve safety

RGTM is deploying a simple but effective and environmentally sound gold processing system. Gold produced this way can be certified as “conflict-free, mercury-free, OECD & minamata convention-compliant responsible gold” which will increase the demand for the gold among global refiners and thus increase the potential revenue and returns for the miners. It operates much like a “Fair Trade” certification in opening up markets and opportunities for the miners.

Expect to see more road trip updates as this project evolves. And if you happen to pass this way, give our regards to Ouagadougou.