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Burkina Faso Suspends Artisanal Gold Exports to Tackle Illicit Trade, Clean up Sector

Monday, 26 February 2024 13:08
Burkina Faso Suspends Artisanal Gold Exports to Tackle Illicit Trade, Clean up Sector

(Ecofin Agency) - Across Burkina Faso and neighboring gold-producing nations, the vast majority of artisanal mining output avoids formal channels, depriving governments of billions and undermining regional security.

Burkina Faso's Minister of Energy, Mines and Quarries, Yacouba Gouba, has announced an immediate suspension of gold and other precious metals exports from artisanal and semi-mechanized mines, according to a press release issued February 20.

The action aims to "clean up the sector and better organize the marketing of gold and precious substances," the statement said. Miners can sell their production during the suspension period to the state-owned Société Nationale des Substances Précieuses (SONASP), though the selling price remains unclear.

Burkina Faso faces a significant challenge with unregulated artisanal gold production, mirroring a regional trend. In 2019, then-Minister of Mines Oumarou Idani told Reuters only 200-400 kg of the estimated 9.5 tons of annual artisanal gold output was declared officially.

Beyond lost tax revenue, illicit gold exports fuel insecurity in Burkina Faso and the wider Sahel region. A February 7 report by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) highlights the involvement of armed groups in the Sahel region, who either tax or directly engage in artisanal gold mining activities. To combat this, the report advocates for formalizing artisanal and small-scale mining across the region. Proposed solutions include establishing cooperatives for miners to share resources and creating designated gold mining zones.

Emiliano Tossou

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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