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Attempting Social Responsibility at Iamgold's mine, Burkina Faso

So called "socially responsible mining" only temporarily covers up elite capture of profits made possible by Burkina’s neo-liberal mining laws, leading to unrest in mining towns.


(en français ci-dessous)  The Essakane gold mine, owned by Canadian mining company ‘IAMGOLD’ is the largest of Burkina Faso’s mining operations. Located in the north of Burkina Faso on the Niger and Mali borders, the mine covers a territory of 100 square kilometers. At the time of its installation in 2009, the Essakane mine displaced 5 villages that had been engaged in livestock rearing, farming, and artisanal gold mining on the site. More than 16,000 people were displaced at Essakane over the course of the 3-year’s installation and expansion of IAMGOLD’s mining activities. The displacement process engaged primarily the male heads of household to explain verbally to this primarily illiterate population the process and procure their signatures (or finger prints in the case of illiteracy) for the displacement. According to the Ministry of Mines, 2,967 parcels were arranged with 2,090 new cement buildings (as opposed to the mud brick former habitations) constructed in the mine’s relocation areas. Those displaced were reported by the Ministry to have received 192,000 FCFA ($326) per hectare per year for five years as well as job training, school scholarships, and other alternative economic development projects. Supported by the mining company, women who had once been involved in artisanal mining now plant vegetable gardens and sell their produce to the mine (mostly because they do not incorporate these vegetables into their diets). The population was swift to accept what some perceived to be generous conditions for their movement, a fact that has prompted the Burkinabe government to cite Essakane as an example of social responsibility.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Attempting Social Responsibility at Iamgold's mine, Burkina Faso
Country:Burkina Faso
State or province:Oudalan
Location of conflict:Falagountou
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Gold
Project Details and Actors
Project details

(en français ci-dessous)

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Project area:10,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project693,738,293
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:16,000
Start of the conflict:01/07/2010
Company names or state enterprises:International African Mining Gold Corporation (IAMGOLD) from Canada
Metalor from Switzerland
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mines, Government of Burkina Faso
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Action de Carême, Pain pour le prochain, ONG ORCADE, Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), Burkina, FIAN International
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Informal workers
International ejos
Landless peasants
Forms of mobilization:Sabotage
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
New legislation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:(en français ci-dessous)
To assist in conflict mitigation, NGO ORCADE shares information and understanding such that the community can avoid misunderstandings and avoid conflict, favoring dialogue. They express that the community claims that the mine has been harmful to their livelihood and negligent in social conditions in the communities surrounding the mine. With ORCADE’s support in negotiations, Essakane may be able to move forward in trying to get something out of the process.
Français: L’ONG ORCADE partage les informations pour aider la communauté à comprendre comment mieux éviter les mal compréhensions et du conflit, en favorisant le dialogue et assistant de prévenir du conflit. Ils expriment que la communauté a revendiqué que la mine est nuisible aux moyens de vivre de la communauté et qu’elle néglige les conditions sociales des communautés autour de la mine. Avec l’appui d’ORCADE aux négociations, Essakane pourrait mieux avancer pour obtenir quelque chose de cet procès.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The suppression of disgruntled workers and reduction in employment in the zone has only maintained the status quo in the village. It is clear that the human rights of those living around Essakane are not respected, despite the provision of some campaigns for development.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

2003 Mining Code
[click to view]


°44 DU 29 OCTOBRE 2015
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Le profit plus important que les droits humains ?
[click to view]

2003 Law of mining
[click to view]


[click to view]

Presentation on the BF Mining Sector
[click to view]

Luning, S. 2008. Liberalisation of the Gold Mining Sector in Burkina Faso. Review of African Political Economy. Volume 35, Issue 17.
[click to view]

Small-Scale Mining in Burkina Faso
[click to view]

Gueye, D. (no date). ETUDE SUR LES MINES ARTISANALES ET LES EXPLOITATIONS MINIERES A PETITE ECHELLE AU BURKINA FASO. International Institute for Environment and Development.
[click to view]

Nous voulons rassurer Metalor
[click to view]

Ce qui a marqué le secteur minier Burkinabè en 2015
[click to view]

Burkina Faso: La soif d'or
[click to view]

New mining code in Burkina Faso should not affect current operations — Iamgold
[click to view]

Manifestation des Populations à ESSAKANE : l’ex-maire de Falangoutou arrêté à Dori
[click to view]

After the gold rush - Esskane Mine
[click to view]

Attaques dans la province du Soum
[click to view]

Fin du contrat de Djamnati sécurité à Essakane SA: la décision de la mine contestée par les populations locales
[click to view]

Burkina Faso: Manifestation contre IAMGOLD/Essakane S A - 28 prévenus ont comparu
[click to view]

Le Burkina Faso adopte un nouveau code minier
[click to view]

Gestion des conflits : 48 h pour renforcer la cohabitation entre compagnies minières et communautés locales
[click to view]

Burkina E-Mine
[click to view]

IAMGOLD Essakane SA à Goulgountou : un don de caprins pour régénérer le cheptel
[click to view]

Goldrush follows the artisanal miners in Burkina Faso
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Chambres des Mines Video about Local Development
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Julie L. Snorek, EJAtlas, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2821
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