This interactive web mapping application has been realised by Bettina Engels, Christian Sonntag, Atossa Pandazmapo and Franza Drechsel (Junior Research Group “Global Change – Local Conflicts?”(GLOCON), Freie Universität Berlin) to support the analysis of conflicts over mining in Burkina Faso. The project aims to integrate quantitative geo-data and data of qualitative social research to generate a better understanding of conflicts around mining in Burkina Faso.
This web map has two sections: the map itself and more detailed text about the mines.
(1) The legend of the map is found on the right side of the screen. In the upper part, you can switch between different base maps, that is, you can choose between a satellite image, open street map and a landscape map. In the bottom part, map layers can be selected depending on your focus. For more information on the mines click on the icons on the map. A small overview map of the broader area is on the left side of the screen. The search function and the geographic coordinates of the mouse position are at the bottom left. Zoom in and out of the map via the mouse wheel or by using the "+" or "-" sign in the top left area of the map section.
(2) On the top of the screen, you find written information and photos on the conflicts of some of the mines under the tab “Mining and conflicts”. The information is based on our own research. Due to limited capacities, not all conflicts and mines are present in the same depth.
Direction Générale de la Géologie et du Cadastre Minier (2013), Permis de recherche octoyés au Burkina Faso, in: ITIE (2014), Rapport de conciliation des paiements des sociétés minières à l’état et des recettes perçues par l’état des dites sociétés pour l’exercice 2012. Ouagadougou: Initiative pour la Transparence dans les Industries Extractives (ITIE), p. 25.Geological structure:
Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières (BRGM) (France), Bureau des mines et de la géologie (BUMIGEB) (Burkina) (2003): Carte géologique et minière du Burkina Faso à 1:1.000.000. Orléans.Population of cities:
City Population (2017): Population of cities in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is one of Africa's fastest growing gold producers. Artisanal mining has a long tradition in Burkina Faso, while large-scale
industrial mining is relatively new and currently expanding. In April 2018, eleven industrial mines were active, including ten gold and one zinc mine.
At the same time, exploration is strongly pursued; in March 2014, there were exploration and exploitation licenses for more than forty per cent
of Burkina Faso's overall surface (Harris & Miller 2015: 15-17).
The Burkinabé land rights stipulate that all land belongs to the state. This also includes natural resources. The first regulation of legal mining titles and a law on investment were passed in 1993. The review of this regulation fed into the first mining law, the code minier in 1997. It stipulated the liberalisation of the mining sector, a consequence of the economic measures of the structural adjustment program. The state was no longer the most direct and important investor in the mining sector; private economic mining activities were permitted and encouraged. In 2003, yet another mining code was introduced, with the intention to attract foreign investors. The most recent code minier was ratified in 2015, against the backdrop of first experiences of producing mines, and mines that have closed down. It is now in the process of being implemented. Contrary to the former mining laws, the new code minier is rather oriented toward state revenues through mining, especially via a newly introduced Mining Fund for Local Development (FMDL).
Conflicts around the mining code
The introduction of the 2015 mining code, and particularly of the FMDL, was a result of long civil society campaigns for a more just distribution of the state revenues generated from the industrial mines. In the current process of implementation, mining companies use all possible means to bypass the new code, e.g. by stating that their mining conventions, or contracts, stemmed from periods of old mining codes and thus the new one did not apply to them. Civil society organisations therefore continuously demand the due implementation of the 2015 mining code. Furthermore, civil society groups argue in favour of a close state control of the mining companies, for just compensation within a national compensation scheme and for greater state revenues to be adequately distributed.
Artisanal gold mining: Orpaillage
In Burkina Faso, most people in rural areas live of subsistence agriculture as well as livestock farming. Another important source of income is artisanal gold mining, which in French speaking West Africa is subsumed under the term orpaillage, the French word for gold washing (i.e. artisanal gold extraction in water courses). Despite its origins, however, the term also encompasses people, referred to as orpailleurs, who extract gold by digging holes in the ground. These pits are often 20 to 50 metres deep, and according to interviewees can sometimes reach up to 100 metres. The orpailleurs use ropes to descend into the pits and work with rudimentary tools to extract potentially gold-bearing ore. In a multi-stage process, the ore is ground by motor-driven mills or by hand, then washed and sieved through cloth. The separation of the gold from the ore is finally achieved using mercury and sometimes cyanide (for a detailed explanation, see Tschakert/Singha 2007).
Artisanal versus industrial gold mining
There are considerable differences between industrial and artisanal mining with regard to the amounts extracted, the number of people employed and the number of extraction sites. In 2016, 1,359 koz of fine gold was mined in Burkina Faso. According to these statistics (DGMGC 2017), only 7.2 koz came from artisanal mines though the actual amount may be significantly higher, as artisanal gold mining largely takes place informally. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 artisanal mines, however, a concession was only granted for 159 (AN 2016b: 2, 24). Altogether, about 5,000 Burkinabè work in industrial mining, the vast majority in low qualified and badly paid positions (AN 2016b: 47). In contrast, more than one million people live on artisanal mining in Burkina Faso (Chouli 2014: 29; Guéniat & White 2015).
Conflicts around industrial mines
The opening of industrial mines in Burkina Faso has sparked conflicts in the nearby villages. There are various reasons why the people living close to the mines protest. Broadly spoken, the implementation of large-scale mines creates conflicts over land and its use. A new mine is installed on land that has previously been used for farming or for orpaillage, land where people have been living on or where holy sites have been located. The mining companies' promise to create formal employment cannot compensate for the losses the people experience. When land is taken away for the mine, subsistence agricultural or livestock farming is no longer possible. As compensation, only rarely are new fields given to the affected families. The operators usually ban orpaillage on the mining concession, which takes away another important source of income. Affected people often perceive that their concerns regarding the protection of holy sites or other needs are treated disrespectfully by the company management. This adds to the general discontent. Our map visualizes these conflicts.
Chouli, Lila (2014): Le boom minier au Burkina Faso: Témoignages de victimes de l’exploitation minière. Paris.
DGMGC (2017): La production minière. Direction Générale des Mines, des la Géologie et des Carrières. Ouagadougou.
Guéniat, Marc & White, Natasha (2015): Golden Racket. The True Source of Switzerland s Togolese Gold. A Berne Declaration Investigation.Lausanne/Zürich.
In this section, some useful documents are listed that are related to mining and conflict in Burkina Faso.Legal documents