Central & West Africa
Burkina Faso: Global Opportunities for the Long-Term Development of the ASGM Sector
Partners: GEF, UNIDO, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Mines and Energy Burkina Faso Ministry of the Environment, Argor Herraeus
In Burkina Faso, the AGC is working to bring positive changes to the country’s artisanal gold sector in innovative ways. The project will help the country to significantly reduce mercury use in ASGM mining and improve the lives of miners, in part, by developing responsible gold value chains that provide better incomes and opportunities to miners while incentivizing responsible ASGM production.
Working with our local and international partners, the AGC will help to develop new financial tools that will allow miners to sell gold more directly to the domestic and international market while capturing a greater share of the value of the gold they produce. Increased revenues and state financing programs will allow miners to reinvest some of their profits in their operations and their communities to achieve positive social and environmental change. At the same time, the project will help to improve and where necessary, develop policy tools and local capacities to manage mercury use and steer the sector towards greater responsible gold production. Finally, we will build on the past success of our pilot mercury-free processing system in Zopal, by developing new programs to train miners in mercury-free techniques and supporting the replication of mercury-free systems across the country.
Currently in the project design phase, this project is expected to begin in 2018.
Senegal and Guinea: Reducing Mercury Use and Release from Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa
Partners: United States Department of State (USDoS)
This project builds on the successes of previous projects conducted by the AGC in West Africa. The successful installation of pilot mercury free processing systems in Zopal in Burkina Faso and Bantako in Senegal in 2014/15 has led to the development of this current West African project. In Senegal, this project focuses on maintaining the operational successes of the Bantako system by providing further miner training, both to the existing operational team, and to neighbouring miner groups to increase exposure and capacity in mercury free practices. A supply chain component will ensure the legal and transparent delivery of gold produced from the pilot system to international markets. In Guinea the project aims to produce national ASGM inventory estimates, and includes a scoping and feasibility component to assess the potential for future technical interventions.
The Senegal portion of the project will provide technical support to the GIE Foukhaba, the mining group operating the AGC’s pilot processing system and training center in Bantako. This support will include further training on machine maintenance and direct smelting of gold concentrates, work begun during previous AGC projects. Additionally, mercury free processing workshops for miners from surrounding communities will be held on the Bantako installation site. Interested mining groups will be brought to site for demonstrations and training to increase exposure to best practices in mineral processing. A supply chain component of the project will develop the infrastructure required to bring the gold produced from the Bantako system from mine to market, yielding miners a better price for their gold than currently received in the field, and bringing a new stream of socially responsible mercury free artisanal gold to international markets.
The Guinean component of this project aims to collect further information to characterize the country’s ASGM sector through field visits and stakeholder meetings. The sector is poorly understood, with little publicly available data surrounding the style, amount, and distribution of artisanal mining in the country. An ASGM inventory will be completed to define primary mining regions and the practices applied, and to constrain gold production, miner population, and mercury usage in Guinea. Field work for inventory analysis will be coupled with scoping for potential technical intervention sites, and installation logistics will be assessed to better understand the feasibility of conducting such technical interventions. This work will provide vital background knowledge needed to proceed with the development of action plans for future improvements to the country’s ASGM sector.
National Action Plan (NAP) on Mercury for the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector (ASGM)
Gabon (2015 – 2017)
Partners: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Mali & Senegal (2016 – 2018)
Partners: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)
As the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector is a major source of mercury release and environmental pollution in the world, the Minamata Convention requires countries with more than insignificant use of mercury in ASGM operations to develop a National Action Plan (NAP). The AGC is supporting countries to prepare their NAP to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury and mercury compounds in the sector.
Within each country the AGC will develop a national analysis of the ASGM sector, including a baseline inventory of mercury use and mining practices. The analysis will provide the basis for identifying national objectives, as well as setting targets and strategies to eliminate worst practices and facilitate the formalization of the sector.
The intent of working on each NAP is also to improve the health of the miners and ASGM communities by developing a public health strategy for the sector. The strategy will be based on the health situation and institutional capacity needs assessments that will be conducted by the AGC.
Awareness will be raised on the risks of mercury use and also on the development of the NAP among relevant stakeholders. To conclude, the AGC will support these governments to endorse their NAPs, define schedules for their implementation and officially submit them to the Minamata Convention Secretariat.