Desk Review of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) in Burkina Faso

Artisanal Mining and Property Rights (USAID AMPR) Task Order Under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights II (STARR II) IDIQ
JUNE 2019


The Artisanal Mining and Property Rights (AMPR) project supports the USAID Land and Urban Office to improve land and resource governance and strengthen property rights for all members of society, especially women. Its purpose is to address land and resource governance challenges in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector, using a multidisciplinary approach and incorporating appropriate and applicable evidence and tools. The USAID AMPR project began in September 2018, and will run for 3 to 5 years, conducting most activities in the Central African Republic.

The purpose of Component 4 of the USAID AMPR project is to “Improve USAID Programming through Increased Understanding of Linkages Between ASM and Key Development Issues.” Activity 4.1.1 of the USAID AMPR Annual Work Plan (2018-2019) envisages actions to “Support relevant USAID operating units to assess the link between ASM and development issues.” Like other activities under Component 4, the purpose is to fill gaps and improve programming of USAID Operational Units and other U.S. government agencies as needed.

The USAID Sahel Regional Mission requested USAID AMPR support to conduct a desk review of the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector in Burkina Faso. Globally ASGM has been steadily increasing from the 1990s, but the current global boom took off when gold prices spiked in 2011 and 2012. This boom has been especially pronounced in Africa. A recent analysis of UN trade statistics reported the UAE (Dubai) importing 446 tons of gold from Africa in 2016, all of which is almost certainly artisanal.[1] This represents around 15% of worldwide global production from 2016, including gold sourced from industrial mines.[2]

While ASGM offers a crucial livelihood for tens of millions of people in 35 countries[3] it is also associated with numerous challenges including environmental impacts (especially mercury emissions), workplace accidents, child labor, gender-based violence, money laundering and terrorist financing (Hunter 2019). The objective of the present desk review is not to provide a comprehensive analysis of the sector, but rather to assist USAID Sahel Regional to better understand the context and realities surrounding ASGM in Burkina Faso, with an emphasis on lessons and opportunities for constructive donor and private sector engagement.

The consultant carried out an in-depth literature review covering donor reports, academic studies, government documents and news reports (see full list in Annex A). In addition, the consultant identified key informants and completed 12 telephone interviews, in addition to email exchanges with other experts. Stakeholders included government officials, other donors/partners, private mining companies and independent experts (see full list in Annex B). The report’s organization is based on the key questions in the Scope of Work (see Annex C), providing an overview of the ASGM sector, an examination of general and Burkina-specific best practices with respect to ASM formalization and ASM-LSM cohabitation, and challenges and opportunities for donor engagement.

[1] “Gold worth billions smuggled out of Africa.” Reuters. April 24, 2019. The study reviewed the destination of industrial gold, which was mostly exported to Europe or South Africa.
[2] 2016 production was around 3,000 tons, according to the World Gold Council.
[3] Source: ILO. See–en/index.htm