This interactive web mapping application has been realised by Bettina Engels,
Christian Sonntag, Atossa Pandazmapo, Franza Drechsel and Mirka Schäfer (Junior Research Group “Global Change –
Local Conflicts?”(GLOCON), Freie Universität Berlin) to support the analysis of conflicts over
mining in Burkina Faso. The project aims to integrate quantitative geo-data and data of qualitative social research
to generate a better understanding of conflicts around mining in Burkina Faso.
Diana Ayeh provide the text and photographs of the Yaramoko mine. Hermann Moussa Konkobo wrote the French text on the Houndé mine. Merle Groneweg, Sarah Kirst and Hermann Moussa Konkobo provided photographs. Many thanks for this!
This web map has two sections: the map itself and more detailed text about the mines.
(1) The legend of the map is found on the right side of the screen. In the upper part, you can switch between different base maps, that is, you can choose between a satellite image, open street map and a landscape map. In the bottom part, map layers can be selected depending on your focus. For more information on the mines click on the icons on the map. A small overview map of the broader area is on the left side of the screen. The search function and the geographic coordinates of the mouse position are at the bottom left. Zoom in and out of the map via the mouse wheel or by using the "+" or "-" sign in the top left area of the map section.
(2) On the top of the screen, you find written information and photos on the conflicts of some of the mines under the tab “Mining and conflicts”. The information is based on our own research. Due to limited capacities, not all conflicts and mines are present in the same depth.
Direction Générale de la Géologie et du Cadastre Minier (2013), Permis de recherche octoyés au Burkina Faso, in: ITIE (2014), Rapport de conciliation des paiements des sociétés minières à l’état et des recettes perçues par l’état des dites sociétés pour l’exercice 2012. Ouagadougou: Initiative pour la Transparence dans les Industries Extractives (ITIE), p. 25.Geological structure:
Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières (BRGM) (France), Bureau des mines et de la géologie (BUMIGEB) (Burkina) (2003): Carte géologique et minière du Burkina Faso à 1:1.000.000. Orléans.Population of cities:
City Population (2017): Population of cities in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is currently Africa’s fifth largest gold producing country
(after Ghana, South Africa, Sudan, and Mali). In 2018, 52.66 tons of
gold were produced in Burkina Faso, according to the minister of mines.
This represents an increase of more than 15 per cent as compared to 2017
(45.8 tons). In 2017, the mining sector accounted for 71 per cent of the
total export earnings, 16 per cent of tax revenue, and 8.46 per cent of
the country’s GDP (BDO 2019: 48-49). In September 2019, 12 industrial mines were active, including 11 gold and one zinc mine.
At the same time, exploration is strongly pursued; in March 2014, there were
exploration and exploitation licenses for more than 40 per cent of
Burkina Faso's overall surface (Harris & Miller 2015: 15-17). In 2018,
more than 700 exploration licences exist (OCDE 2018).
The Burkinabé land rights stipulate that all land belongs to the state. This also includes natural resources. The first regulation of legal mining titles and a law on investment were passed in 1993. The review of this regulation fed into the first mining law, the code minier in 1997. It stipulated the liberalisation of the mining sector, a consequence of the economic measures of the structural adjustment program. The state was no longer the most direct and important investor in the mining sector; private economic mining activities were permitted and encouraged. In 2003, yet another mining code was introduced with a 20% corporate tax for the mining industry, which is comparably low and was thought to attract foreign investors. Currently (2018), the corporate tax is set at 28% (for details on mining taxes in Burkina Faso, see Dorin 2017 ). The most recent code minier was ratified in 2015, against the backdrop of first experiences of producing mines, and mines that have closed down. It is now in the process of being implemented. Contrary to the former mining laws, the new code minier is rather oriented toward state revenues through mining, especially via a newly introduced Mining Fund for Local Development (FMDL). The new legislation will, however, not lead to a substantial change of the mining politics and its impacts (Hubert 2018).
Conflicts around the mining code
The introduction of the 2015 mining code, and particularly of the FMDL, was a result of long civil society campaigns for a more just distribution of the state revenues generated from the industrial mines. In the current process of implementation, mining companies use all possible means to bypass the new code, e.g. by stating that their mining conventions, or contracts, stemmed from periods of old mining codes and thus the new one did not apply to them. Civil society organisations therefore continuously demand the due implementation of the 2015 mining code. Civil society organisations therefore continuously demand the due implementation of the 2015 mining code: In October 2018, several civil society organisations (ORCADE, Publiez ce que vous payez, Oxfam) published a report in which they call for the realisation of the mining law in terms of the environment, the local supply, the national job security in the mining industry and the implementation of the FMDL by the mining companies (Nabole 2018, ORCADE 2018).
Artisanal gold mining: Orpaillage
In Burkina Faso, most people in rural areas live of subsistence agriculture as well as livestock farming. Another important source of income is artisanal gold mining, which in French speaking West Africa is subsumed under the term orpaillage, the French word for gold washing (i.e. artisanal gold extraction in water courses). Despite its origins, however, the term also encompasses people, referred to as orpailleurs, who extract gold by digging holes in the ground. These pits are often 20 to 50 metres deep, and according to interviewees can sometimes reach up to 100 metres. The orpailleurs use ropes to descend into the pits and work with rudimentary tools to extract potentially gold-bearing ore. In a multi-stage process, the ore is ground by motor-driven mills or by hand, then washed and sieved through cloth. The separation of the gold from the ore is finally achieved using mercury and sometimes cyanide (for a detailed explanation, see Tschakert/Singha 2007).
Artisanal versus industrial gold mining
Whereas industrial mining is quite recent in the country, Burkina Faso has a tradition of artisanal gold mining, which began long before colonisation, though it has long been limited to certain regions. There are considerable differences between industrial and artisanal mining with regard to the amounts extracted, the number of people employed and the number of extraction sites. Whereas official statistics account for only 3 per cent of the gold produced in Burkina Faso being extracted artisanally, Arnaldi di Balme and Lanzano 2014: 18) estimate that de facto the share is rather 25 per cent. 500-700 artisanal mining sites are officially counted in the country; it is estimated, however, that more than 1,000 exist (AN 2016, OCDE 2018). In 2017, in total 9,651 persons were directly employed in the currently 11 industrial mines, including 9,017 Burkinabé and 634 people of other nationalities (Kaboré 2018). The vast majority of employees from Burkina Faso work in low qualified and badly paid positions. At least 1.2 million people make their living through artisanal gold mining, plus a considerably number of community members supported by them (Guéniat & White 2015; OCDE 2018). Despite the fact that artisanal mining is by and large an informal activity, and is undertaken under precarious conditions with high economic and health risks, it nevertheless offers a considerable number of people a livelihood. People working in artisanal mining spend, altogether, nearly two thirds of their income onsite (Pokorny et al. 2019: 26).
Conflicts around industrial mines
The opening of industrial mines in Burkina Faso has sparked conflicts in the nearby villages. There are various reasons why the people living close to the mines protest. Broadly spoken, the implementation of large-scale mines creates conflicts over land and its use. A new mine is installed on land that has previously been used for farming or for orpaillage, land where people have been living on or where holy sites have been located. The mining companies' promise to create formal employment cannot compensate for the losses the people experience. When land is taken away for the mine, subsistence agricultural or livestock farming is no longer possible. As compensation, only rarely are new fields given to the affected families. The operators usually ban orpaillage on the mining concession, which takes away another important source of income. Affected people often perceive that their concerns regarding the protection of holy sites or other needs are treated disrespectfully by the company management. This adds to the general discontent. Our map visualizes these conflicts.
DGMGC (2017): La production minière. Direction Générale des Mines, des la Géologie et des Carrières. Ouagadougou.
Guéniat, Marc & White, Natasha (2015): Golden Racket. The True Source of Switzerland s Togolese Gold. A Berne Declaration Investigation.Lausanne/Zürich.
Hubert, Nicolas (2018): La nouvelle législation minière burkinabée : quels risques en matière de développement durable? In: Canadian Journal of Development Studies / Revue canadienne d'études du développement, 1-15.
ORCADE (2018): Etat des Lieux de la Mise en Oeuvre du Nouveau Code Minier du Burkina Faso: Organisation pour le Renforcement des Capacités de Développement/Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez/Oxfam.
Pokorny, Benno, et al. 2019: All the gold for nothing? Impacts of mining on rural livelihoods in Northern Burkina Faso. In: World Development, 119, 23-39.
In this section, some useful documents are listed that are related to mining and conflict in Burkina Faso.Legal documents