Burkina Faso: Military Junta Blocks Exports of Gold, Precious Minerals

Burkina Faso’s military junta, which has been in government in Ouagadougou since a coup d’état on September 30, 2022, has suspended exports of gold and precious commodities.

The decision, as the junta itself explains, addresses the need to “clean up the sector and reflects the government’s desire to better organize the marketing of gold and other precious substances.” The shutdown has been in effect since February 20, and no timeline for the export ban has been set at this time.

According to Reuters, this is particularly hard on Burkina Faso’s economy, given that mining is one of the country’s main sources of work, and gold accounts for 37% of the country’s exports; an estimated 10 to 30 tons of the precious mineral are mined each year, all of which are extracted using “artisanal” methods involving an estimated 1 million people out of a 22-million population.

This type of extraction benefits the people directly involved, but also has negative consequences related to the environment (deforestation, erosion, etc.). According to what is written in a 2019 report by the NGO Crisis Group, cited by Africa Magazine in Burkina Faso and other Sahel states, the development of these gold-related activities is a source of “funding and even a recruiting ground for various armed terrorist groups” that seize territories and assets to finance themselves, especially where state control is weak.