Now the fourth largest gold producer in Africa, Burkina Faso is in the midst of a modern gold rush. With the precious metal present in every region of the country, the mining industry has steadily grown in Burkina Faso over the last decade, and the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASGM) sector has grown along with it. According to some estimates, gold production from the country’s ASGM sector now even outpaces the industrial sector’s production.
planetGOLD project sites in Burkina Faso
Artisanal and small-scale mining is the primary source of income for a large part of the country’s population, with over 430,000 people directly employed at more than 440 mine sites. The vast majority of those involved in the ASGM sector lack formal education as well as alternative employment options that would provide them with a sufficient level of income to make a living.
Using mercury to separate gold from the ore is a common practice among artisanal and small-scale miners in Burkina Faso. Many are unaware of the negative health and environmental impacts of this practice, but some of the main issues keeping miners from shifting to mercury-free methods are that most are not aware of alternative options, they do not have the initial financial investment needed to purchase better technologies, and they lack training on how to operate and maintain them. Despite government efforts and legislation improvements, the country’s mining regulations also tend to disfavor ASGM operations and have hampered widespread formalization of the sector.
Key Figures from Burkina Faso
430,000+ people are employed in ASGM
440+ sites have ASGM activity
90% of ASGM miners lack a formal education
50 tonnes of gold are produced by ASGM each year
Burkina Faso’s Approach
The planetGOLD Burkina Faso project is working toward eliminating mercury in the ASGM sector by improving availability of mercury-free technologies, shortening the gold supply chain, and increasing artisanal and small-scale miners’ direct access to the international market.
The project team is working to strengthen policies supporting formalization, establish a revolving fund to provide miners with financial incentives to purchase mercury-free processing systems, and develop training courses in collaboration with vocational schools on how to operate these technologies and formalize mining operations.
Support formalization of the ASGM sector
Help miners access financing and international gold markets
Train national ASGM specialists on implementation and scaling of best practices, including mercury-free technologies and formalization
Educate, raise awareness, and transfer knowledge to the global ASGM community
Contact planetGOLD Burkina Faso
The planetGOLD Burkina Faso project is implemented by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), co-financed by the Artisanal Gold Council, Argor Heraeus and the government of Burkina Faso, and executed by the Artisanal Gold Council.
Ing. Moussa Bouboucari
planetGOLD Burkina Faso National Project Manager
Artisanal Gold Council