London – 20 February 2023: Women in Mining UK 2022 Summer Internship at World Gold Council – Eliana Katherine Molina Ramirez
Written by: Eliana Katherine Molina Ramirez
At school I had been dedicated to studying the socio-environmental aspects of gold mining. First, in my bachelor’s, when working towards reducing the use of mercury amalgamation in my home country, Colombia, and then in my MSc, when investigating methods to remediate soil contaminated with mercury by Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) operations.
When reading WIM UK’s internship programme, I found the opportunity to apply for a position within the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) team of the World Gold Council (WGC), the global authority on gold.
WGC’s Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMPs) and Conflict-Free Gold Standard had informed my research in the past, so I held a deep appreciation for the organisation’s work. Moreover, some of the most relevant mining companies operating in my home country are WGC members, so for me, being able to know the WGC on the inside was an incredible opportunity.
The internship itself was a very enriching process. The HR office arranged a series of inductions with members of the different teams within the WGC, which is a fantastic opportunity to learn how the organisation works. My induction chats with the heads of finance, research, comms, central banks, etc. helped me understand the dynamics of the gold market and why achieving transparency within the sector is crucial to enhancing the role of gold as an investment-worthy asset.
Coming from an academic setting, I also very much enjoyed my chats about gold use in advanced technologies. For example, it was mind-blowing to hear about projects to test gold for treating cancer tumours or carbon sequestration. Among the biggest hurdles to transparency in the gold industry is ASM and its associated socio-environmental issues. As ASM is a sensitive topic for which I genuinely care, I also valued very much the opportunity to work with and learn from Edward Bickham, senior adviser.
Hannah Brandstaetter and John Mulligan were fantastic mentors. They provided excellent guidance and allowed me to engage in different and exciting projects. One was related to achieving the carbon neutrality certification for the WGC. Here I was involved in evaluating a portfolio of carbon credits providers in terms of transparency, relevance for the industry, added value, and other factors to ensure investment would go to legitimate and meaningful projects.
Another piece of work I undertook was to screen through the members’ sustainability reports looking at their accountability and reporting status for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. For this, I had to familiarise myself with the classification of GHG gasses, their relevance in terms of climate change contribution, carbon accounting, and corporate responsibility standards, such as the GHG Protocol, TCFD, SASB, CDP, SBTi, etc. This arduous work involved thorough research, a systematic review of data, critical reasoning, practical organisation, and prioritisation in delivering a pragmatic report.
Overall, the internship was one of the most enriching professional experiences I’ve had. I feel privileged to have had the possibility to learn from and share with such an outstanding group of professionals. It wasn’t only about work but also about many gatherings, lunches, and activities that made my time at the WGC the best possible.
I want to thank WIM UK and the WGC for providing this fantastic opportunity to explore the mining industry from a broader global perspective. And finally, I’d like to extend a special thank you to the ESG Team; Terry, Hannah, John, Edward, Peter, Trevor, and Joe; thank you for receiving me and making me part of your team. I look forward to our careers hopefully crossing paths in the future.