Artisanal Gold Council Advances Mercury-Free Gold Mining in Ioba, Burkina Faso

Dano, Burkina Faso – The Artisanal Gold Council (AGC), through its project for promoting Responsible Gold Panning (OR), organized a significant exchange trip for twenty-one mining artisans from the Central Plateau region in Ioba on November 14 and 15, 2023.

According to Burkina Information Agency, the participants visited gold sites at Mémer in the commune of Koper and Gnikpière in the commune of Dano, where they observed chemical-free ore processing equipment installations managed by local mining artisans’ cooperatives. This initiative is part of a broader effort to promote mercury-free gold panning techniques in Burkina Faso.

The visit aimed to enable artisanal miners to share experiences on mercury-free ore processing technologies and the community management of equipment. They interacted directly with colleagues from the province of Ioba and learned about the operation and performance of mercury-free treatment equipment. Discussions also covered the establishment and operation of cooperative societies at Mémer and Gnikpière.

The participants, hailing from gold sites in Kougpélé, Nobsin, and Tamgpipelse, were informed about the community management methods for installed equipment. The trip fostered partnerships between visitors and school site managers, signaling a move towards adopting better chemical-free ore processing practices.

The OR project, financed by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Department and implemented by a consortium of NGOs including Caritas Suisse, Solidar Suisse, and the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC), is set to provide community investments for mercury-free treatment systems at Kougpélé, Nobsin, and Tamgpipelse sites. This trip is expected to ensure successful and participatory implementation of these systems.

The project, which will run from May 2023 to April 2027, operates in three gold sites in the Central Plateau region and two sites in the Center-West. Among the twenty-one participants, six women took part, including Soumaïla Ilboudo, who found the visit enlightening, and Fati Sawadogo, impressed by the mercury-free processing technology.

Saidou Kabré, the country representative of the Canadian NGO AGC, stated that a mercury-free ore processing unit costs approximately 50,000 US dollars (around 30 million CFA francs). The implementation is carried out in synergy with Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Quarries.

Kabré expressed satisfaction with the trip’s success, noting that the visitors were interested in the equipment’s operation, performance, and efficiency. Michel Dabiré, president of the Gnikpière cooperative society, acknowledged the health risks associated with mercury use and expressed gratitude for the support from Planet Gold in installing the processing unit.

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