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Burkina Faso: Government Seeks Solutions as Six Gold Mines Fall Short on Environmental Fund Obligations

Burkina Faso, renowned for its significant gold production in Africa, is home to operations by prominent international mining firms such as Iamgold and Orezone from Canada, West African Resources from Australia, and Endeavour Mining, the leading gold producer in West Africa.

According to a report presented to the Council of Ministers on February 14 by the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Quarries, as of December 31, 2022, six industrial mines in Burkina Faso have failed to fulfill their obligations to the Mine Rehabilitation and Closure Fund (FRFM). These outstanding contributions total CFA7.53 billion (approximately $12.26 million). However, the report did not specify the names of these mines, nor did it disclose the identities of the 49 industrial quarries also falling behind in their payments.

The FRFM, financed by companies operating industrial mines as well as those managing semi-mechanized mines and quarry substances, possessed resources amounting to CFA57.13 billion as of December 2022. These funds are earmarked for activities related to the rehabilitation and closure of mines across the country.

In response to the challenges encountered in collecting these resources, the Council has instructed the relevant ministers to undertake specific measures. These include establishing FRFM accounts for industrial mines lacking them and reviewing legislative and regulatory frameworks governing the fund’s operations.

The significance of an effective mine closure and rehabilitation process cannot be overstated, given its crucial role in mitigating the environmental and socio-economic impact of the mining industry. Mismanaged mine closures may result in the infiltration of artisanal miners into these sites, thereby exacerbating local community challenges. For instance, in Niger, concerns have been raised by civil society since 2021 regarding potential groundwater contamination in the Agadez region following the closure of the Akouta uranium mine by the French company Orano.

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