Formalizing West Africa’s Mining Sector Could Pay Security Dividends

A miner at a gold mine in Bouda, Burkina Faso, Feb. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).
A miner at a gold mine in Bouda, Burkina Faso, Feb. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

The residents of Solhan, a village in northeastern Burkina Faso, are painfully aware of the connection between artisanal mining and insecurity.  Last June, insurgents invaded the village, targeting the civilian self-defense force in the area as well as an artisanal gold mine located there. They went on to burn down a market and several houses, killing at least 160 civilians in the process. The regional governor directly blamed the incident, which marked one of the deadliest-ever insurgent attacks in Burkina Faso, on artisanal gold mining, and he subsequently banned the practice after the attack. Several hundred miles to the east, […]

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