Burkina Faso


Community brief

Zemstaaba Cooperative, located in Gnikpière village, Dano District, Burkina Faso, was established in 2022. Led by Mr. Sandoli Dabire, the cooperative management committee consists of 9 members (1 woman and 8 males). They started the excavation of a horizontal shaft in the formal land in a mining area called Gnikpiere in 2017. Most of the cooperative members were already in the mining business and although most of the members had known each other for a long time, it wasn't until 2022 that they decided to form a cooperative, thanks to technical assistance from AGC. The cooperative’s leader, Mr. Dabire is a sole trader with a team of 07 employees in Essakane for 03 years. He was in charge of security for Société Valorisation de Minerai d'Or (SVMO) for 04 years before setting up the cooperative he manages. The Zemstaaba ‘s cooperative has solid experience in mining (18 years), good leadership from the president, a good relational portfolio and good knowledge of the mining sector. That’s why this cooperative was attracted to the investment opportunity, and the AGC is cooperating with this mining partnership.

What is the AGC currently working on?

Since the beginning of the planetGOLD Burkina Faso project in 2019, one of the AGC’s main goals has been to bring economic, environmental, and other benefits to the community of the main project site, Gnikpiere village, Dano district, and working with the Zemstaaba cooperative in three major areas. In this way, we support the ASGM formalization process and professional approach in the ASGM Sector in Burkina Faso.

Establishing a mercury-free processing plant

Since 2019, the AGC has been piloting two mercury-free processing systems (MFPS) in Burkina Faso through the planetGOLD Burkina Faso project to prevent mercury usage, increase gold recovery of hard-rock gold ore processing, implement international standards on responsible ASM (ensure transparency of gold origin), promote formalized operations, and share best practice experience with other processing plants in Burkina. The cooperative members is using the piloting MFPS because most miners at the Gnikpiere site process their ore there. The miners also sell their gold there since they may have access to some informal credit from the owner of the processing plant. As a result, the AGC decided to support and improve the cooperative activities by installing the MFPS.  This processing plant was installed to benefit the local mining community and is now working to establish basic infrastructure for the MFPS, including buildings, equipment, water, and power supply. As part of the deployment of the mercury-free ore processing unit on the Gnikpière artisanal mining site, the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) has initiated a training session for local machine operators recruited from the mining community to manage the ore processing equipment installed for this purpose. To ensure MFPS technologies are operated safely, the AGC plans to provide additional training every three to six months. In addition, the AGC will be the one to write out the MFPS's operational procedures manual, as well as inspection sheets for the equipment and a maintenance log. The MFPS was developed as a mercury-free, gravimetric technology that can handle 8 metric tons of ore per day and is expected to recover 60–70% of the entire gold. Furthermore, the AGC has been actively seeking the necessary permissions, including the Feasibility Study Report and Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, to ensure that the MFPS can legally operate.

Enabling its access to formal gold markets

The AGC is the first organization that is trying to implement the planetGOLD criteria standard, which is a branched-out version of the CRAFT Code (the Code of Risk Mitigation for Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Engaging in Formal Trade) in Mongolia.The planetGOLD criteria standard was set out by the planetGOLD programme to govern the operations of artisanal and small-scale gold mining entities engaged with the programme. Conformance with the criteria will ensure that artisanal and small-scale miners participating in the planetGOLD programme undertake sufficient efforts to avoid, minimize, mitigate, and where appropriate, offset adverse impacts posed to people and the environment. In addition, by adhering to these criteria, mining entities will enhance their ability to attract financing and sell their gold products to formal markets—more about the planetGOLD criteria to be found here. Following the selection of three Mongolian ASM organizations in July 2022, the criteria were put into action by the AGC. The AGC performed an initial assessment of the TMP and developed a work plan to enhance its operations and meet the requirements; the TMP is one of these partnerships. The main activities indicated in the plan were to capacitate and inform the TMP members about the main criterion and the individual topics, such as occupational safety and health, human rights, gender issues, formalization, and so on. In addition, one of the plan's main goals was to assist the TMP in adapting its internal rules and documents to align with the local legislation and the planetGOLD criteria. Facilitating and educating TMP members on the main criteria and specific subjects (e.g., occupational safety and health, human rights, gender issues, formalization, etc.) were the primary activities outlined in the plan. Also, helping the TMP update its internal rules and documents to comply with local legislation and planetGOLD criteria was a primary objective of the plan. Additionally, according to the criteria, the TMP has chosen a member to serve as a CRAFT officer responsible for compliance. So, the AGC has been providing ongoing training and capacity-building for the CRAFT officer so that the TMP can effectively implement the criteria. As a result of the changes to the internal rules and recording templates, the TMP is now able to refer to the core principles of the organization, which are mainly based on: 

  • human rights and respecting each other,
  • adhering to the legislation of the sector, 
  • refraining from using mercury and other harmful chemicals,
  • respecting women and children and their rights,
  • always following the occupational health and safety rules,
  • respecting and protecting the environment in all the stages of mining,
  • cooperating with the community and herders nearby,
  • having an effective complaint mechanism,
  • establishing a transparent supply chain for mining, transporting, processing, and selling of gold, etc.

Conducting capacity-building activities

Skilled and knowledgeable artisanal miners can contribute to the AGC’s goal in improving the working conditions, opportunities, environment, and health of the millions of people involved in ASGM in the developing world. In order to assist artisanal and small-scale miners in Mongolia, particularly those in Selenge province, with formalizing their operations, operating responsibly in accordance with applicable legislation, and acquiring knowledge and skills in areas such as operational safety and health, gender and human rights, environmental practice, business management, and more, the AGC has been organizing trainings and other capacity-building activities for these artisanal miners since 2019.The TMP members actively participate in capacity-building activities of the AGC and actively showing interest in developing responsible mining in the area of Tunkhel. As of the end of 2023, the cooperative members had participated in around 20 trainings and other capacity-building activities  organized by the AGC in various themes: 

1. Minamata convention
3. Due diligence 
4. ASM Legislation and Formalization
5. Taxation and Social Insurance
6. Responsible mining
7. Management and leadership
8. Environmental rehabilitation
9. Organizational management
10. Establishing Saving and credit cooperative 
11. Operational health and safety
12. OHS legislaton in ASGM
13. Gender and human rights
14. First aid
15. CRAFT criteria
16. Business project development
17. Tree planting and nursing

Other activities:
1. New ASM Regulation Workshop
2. ASGM Fora
3. Community Days

The AGC is always trying to use various participatory methods and approaches, games, and motivating tools for capacity-building activities while taking into account the unique characteristics of artisanal miners, and these approaches are always effective in engaging and encouraging artisanal miners during pieces of training and other activities. The TMP’s related photos are available here.