(Ecofin Agency) - Driven by gold mining, Burkina Faso's mining sector accounts for 16% of GDP and 80% of exports, according to the latest EITI data. To increase the sector's contribution to the economy, the government said it will build a refinery to process gold locally.
Burkina Faso’s President, Ibrahim Traoré, laid the foundation stone for a national gold refinery on November 23, 2023. With an annual refining capacity of 150 tonnes, the facility, whose total cost has not been disclosed, will produce its first gold eleven months from now. The project is developed in partnership with Marena Gold, a local company.
The refinery will be the first in the country. It will house a jewellery store and the future headquarters of the Société Nationale des Substances Précieuses, which oversees the project on behalf of the State. The facility should create 100 direct jobs and over 5,000 indirect jobs, according to the authorities.
"We will no longer be refining our gold abroad but have it refined. And we will know what the real value of the raw gold that comes out of our mines is," stressed President Traoré, in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Mines, Simon Pierre Boussim.
Gold is Burkina Faso's leading export product. The country produced 57.6 tonnes in 2022, down 14% year-on-year.
Local processing is gradually becoming a priority for several African mining countries, which have long exported their raw production. In the gold sector, particularly, most of the continent's producers have their gold processed in refineries in South Africa, Switzerland, or China. As Africa's third-largest gold producer by 2022, Mali could follow in the footsteps of its neighbor Burkina Faso, following the signing this week of a memorandum of understanding with Russia for the construction of a gold refinery.