NOVEMBER 2013.  Burkina Faso is currently experiencing a dramatic gold mining boom. It has been fuelled by a hike in global gold prices and by government reforms aimed to attract Foreign Direct Investment in the sector. Gold mining has enormous potential to support development that benefits the poor.

Six industrial mines have been opened since 2008, and seven others are projected. At the same time, small-scale artisanal mining has rapidly expanded and generated an increase in wealth for thousands of rural households. 

At least 650,000 people are estimated to benefit from artisanal mining. The ability of the State to accommodate both industrial and small-scale mining interests will largely determine whether gold mining can lead to sustained improvements in rural welfare in Burkina Faso.

In this brief learn:

  • About the history of small-scale gold mining, or orpaillage, in Burkina Faso and the reasons the government allows it to continue despite its illegality.
  • Why current efforts to formalize small-scale mining activities may actually be hurting the rural poor.
  • How the national government plans to address the issues arising from the growing gap between the formal and informal mining sectors. 

Burkina Faso

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