Is ASGM legal in Burkina Faso? Workshops on the legal framework supporting Burkina Faso’s ASGM sector
By Sadraki Yabre and Tegan Holmes - July 30, 2021
In order for artisanal and small-scale gold mining to play an active role within the formal economy in Burkina Faso, mining operations must operate within the legal framework of the state. As part of the execution of the Global Environment Facility-supported planetGOLD Burkina Faso project, the national policy and legal framework supporting the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector was analysed. This comprehensive analysis by the project team highlighted some key areas for potential policy revision and potential for improved application, which led to the development of a series of policy recommendations and workshops about these matters.
Prior to providing governmental and non-governmental stakeholders with the series of recommendations, the in-depth analysis of the current legislation was conducted by the project’s Policy Analyst, Sadraki Yabre. The analysis took stock of the numerous regulatory provisions governing the ASGM sector which faces a main challenge of being unable to enforce most of the provisions currently in place. In addition to highlighting the difficulty of enforceability, the analysis highlighted the inadequacy of certain regulatory provisions in relation to the actual realities of the sector. For example, the ban on the use of explosives within the ASGM sector is problematic because it leaves artisanal miners with very few legal resources when faced with opening up or expanding a pit for hard rock mining. Miners are therefore often forced to make the difficult decision to use illicit explosives in order to continue mining operations needed to provide themselves and their miner groups with at least semi-adequate livelihood opportunities.
Within Burkinabe government structures themselves, there is also a noted lack of synergistic collaboration between agencies involved in the ASGM sector. According to government officials interviewed by the project, this situation is said to be due to cases of overlapping prerogatives and misunderstandings of each other’s roles. Furthermore, the analysis revealed some of the key reasons for the high level of informality in Burkina Faso’s ASGM sector. Notably, there are knowledge gaps amongst stakeholders tasked with implementing related regulatory provisions governing the sector and an unfamiliarity with the advantages that a formalized ASGM sector could potentially offer. As part of the planetGOLD Burkina Faso project’s efforts to assist in the formalization of the sector, three documents were developed and shared amongst government stakeholders to close these knowledge gaps:
- An analysis of the shortcomings of the legislative and regulatory provisions governing the ASGM sector in Burkina Faso
- Guidelines on best practices for the implementation of the proposed policy recommendations
- An analysis of the institutional capacity to implement the proposed policy recommendations
To share these recommendations and systems which can be used to engage the ASGM community and the government in further formalization processes, the planetGOLD Burkina Faso project held two workshops, the first on 2 June 2021 and the second on 29 June 2021, to capacitate key stakeholders on how to implement the proposed recommendations. The planetGOLD Burkina Faso project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), led by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and executed by the Artisanal Gold Council in partnership with the “Direction General” of Environmental Protection.
The first event on 2 June 2021 was a training workshop for government stakeholders in charge of the ASGM sector, and it encouraged participants to commit to the implementation of the proposed recommendations for the improvement of the sector. It brought together 16 men and 11 women from different ministries, experts from the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC), and administrative support staff. Those that participated in the workshops are all directly or indirectly involved in the management of the ASGM sector. These are, essentially, the monitoring and regulatory bodies in charge of the technical supervision and formalization of the sector, which includes environmental, human rights, and gender aspects of miners and mine sites, as well as systems and people involved in the gold trade – the gold value chain. The focus of the training was to foster an open dialogue amongst the participants on how best to implement the recommendations of the legal framework assessment.
The main goal of the second event, held on 29 June 2021, was to raise awareness for non-state stakeholders directly and indirectly linked to ASGM with regard to the existing legal framework and to encourage their contribution to its improvement and implementation. This workshop brought together mining training schools, industrial and semi-mechanized mining companies, mineral analysis laboratories, and associations of artisanal miners, as well as experts from the AGC and the Ministries of the Environment and Mines. Following the presentations on planetGOLD Burkina Faso and formalization, by planetGOLD policy analyst Sadraki Yabre, and national coordinator Alizèta Ouedraougo, discussions on key aspects of the legislation, shortcomings, and recommendations for the improvement of the framework were held.
Two initiatives were proposed by the participants, namely:
✔ the organisation of a meeting between the Ministers of Mines and Environment on the collaboration and coordination of actions on the ground with miners ;
✔ the creation of a national consultation mechanism targeting key ASGM stakeholders. Funding for this framework will be requested for NGOs involved in ASGM from industrial mining companies.
Together, these two workshops offered the participants a platform to gain awareness and discuss the recommendations for an improved ASGM policy framework in Burkina Faso. These recommendations will be further disseminated to all relevant entities until they are fully adopted and implemented.
To learn more about these events, and the recommendations proposed by planetGOLD Burkina Faso, please watch the video of the workshop and view the recommendation booklet developed here.