UNIDO launches $9 million project to improve artisanal gold supply chain in Burkina Faso
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) will implement a project to eliminate mercury and improve the gold supply chain in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector in Burkina Faso.
The project, which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), co-financed by Artisanal Gold Council (AGC), Argor Heraeus and the government, and executed by AGC, is part of the GEF’s Global Opportunity for Long-term Development (GOLD) programme. The project will work to formalize the sector; and support miners in accessing markets for responsible gold and moving to mercury-free mining and processing.
“The GEF-GOLD programme is taking a global yet comprehensive approach, ensuring that effective tools and mechanisms are in place for artisanal and small-scale mining communities to continue to prosper while preserving their base resources, the environment and their own health,” said GEF Director of Programmes Gustavo Fonseca.
UNIDO has a comparatively long history in working in the artisanal gold mining sector in Burkina Faso. Based on lessons learned from past interventions, the project will take an integrated gold supply chain approach to include numerous actions, including formalization, increase access to finance, transfer of mercury free technologies, and knowledge sharing.
“Artisanal gold mining represents a unique opportunity to develop livelihoods in rural areas,” said Stephan Sicars, UNIDO Director of the Department of Environment. “Therefore, UNIDO will provide training on better mining practices, gender, financing, environmental, legal and management, which will support miners to move toward formalization and financial sustainability.
The $9.3m project was launched in the presence of a panel of national and international experts, including environmentalists, refiners, financing institutions, implementers, government representatives, and donors, who shared their visions, commitments and experiences in introducing opportunities for collaboration, investment and creating responsible gold supply chains.
Artisanal gold mining accounts for approximately 20 per cent of the world’s primary mined gold production. Around 12 to 15 million people, including 4.5 million women and one million children, currently depend on the mostly informal sector for their livelihoods in many rural communities in over 70 countries worldwide, including Burkina Faso. The ASGM sector is the main source of income for over 700,000 miners and their families in Burkina Faso. With over 200 artisanal mining sites, mercury poses significant and serious health risks and environmental impact throughout the country.