Burkina Faso launches construction of its first gold refinery

The transitional authorities resulting from a coup d'état in Burkina Faso launched on Thursday November 23 in Ouagadougou the construction of a first gold refinery, the country's main mineral resource, which is scheduled to come into service in eleven months, noted an AFP journalist

Burkina Faso launches construction of its first gold refinery

The transitional authorities resulting from a coup d'état in Burkina Faso launched on Thursday November 23 in Ouagadougou the construction of a first gold refinery, the country's main mineral resource, which is scheduled to come into service in eleven months, noted an AFP journalist.

“There is no longer any question for us of taking our gold outside to refine it. We will refine it on site, we know what the real content of the raw gold that comes out is. That’s very important,” declared transitional president and captain Ibrahim Traoré, during a ceremony to launch the construction of the refinery in the Burkinabe capital. “For some time, gold has become [the country’s] number one export. But we have no control over gold (…). Today we decided to put a whole chain in place,” he added.

The refinery will have an annual production capacity of 150 tonnes of 99.99% pure gold, or around 400 kg per day, according to Ismaël Sibi, CEO of Marena Gold, the refinery's co-managing company. The first gold bars, with a grade of 22 carats, will leave this refinery in eleven months, he said. In addition, this refinery will allow the creation of 100 direct jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs, continued Mr. Sibi.

Gold production in decline

In Burkina Faso, gold production fell by 13.7% in 2022 compared to 2021, from 66.8 to 57.6 tonnes. According to data from the Extractive Mining Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the mining sector contributed 14.3% to the Burkinabe state’s revenue. Furthermore, “a lot of gold leaves Burkina fraudulently and this also contributes to fueling terrorism,” said Mr. Traoré.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught in a spiral of violence perpetrated by jihadist groups affiliated with the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda which were already hitting neighboring Mali and Niger. To date, they have caused more than 17,000 civilian and military deaths over the past eight years, including more than 6,000 since the start of 2023, according to the NGO Acled, which lists the victims of conflicts around the world.

This violence led to the closure of four industrial mines in 2022 and the abandonment of nearly 700 gold panning sites, according to official figures. In February, Burkinabe authorities requisitioned 200 kg of gold produced by a subsidiary of the Canadian group Endeavor Mining for “public necessity”, a decision “dictated by an exceptional context”, according to the government.