While Burkina Faso’s artisanal gold mining sector continues to grow, the informal nature of the sector has been doing the same. ASGM provides much-needed livelihood opportunities for Burkinabe men and women who lack other options that generate a similar income and ease of entry. However, that informal nature is also limiting and so, fortunately, it is now beginning to change with assistance from projects like the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals-funded Scalable Trade in Artisanal Gold (STAG) project executed by the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) in partnership with RESOLVE and Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI).
To assist with formalization and to install a system of due diligence along the supply chain to ensure that gold is being produced responsibly, the STAG project has selected three sites, with Diarkadougou being one of them, that will be the focus for scaling up the responsible and formal gold trade in the region. Every site needs a champion, and for Diarkadougou, 41-year-old Kam Sié Dominique is the miner paving the way for the formalization of this operation with assistance from the STAG team.
Dominique has worked in the ASGM sector as a seasonal miner since 2012 after the ban on indigenous people conducting gold mining activities was lifted by the chief of the land of Diarkadougou. Prior to joining the ASGM sector, Dominique was a school headmaster, a municipal councillor of Diarkadougou and a regional councillor of the Commune of Bondigui. He is currently the Head of the Bureau of Statistics in the Basic Education District of Bondigui. To increase his understanding of the sector, and the challenges that are found at mining sites in Burkina Faso, Dominique has worked on furthering his education by participating in courses related to public health and communicable diseases, the protection of the environment and life, as well as training on the global approach of the Forestry Investment Programme for the development and sustainable management of classified forests in Gaoua.
After working at Diarkadougou for four years, under the management of a Burkinabe gold buying and selling company, which brought in the security firm Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité (CRS), Dominique knew it was time for action. The women and men miners working on the site did not have access to fair and safe working conditions because they were not members of a formal association.
This situation led Dominique to take action for the well-being of his community and the artisanal miners in his position as Regional Councillor of the Commune of Bondigui and as Municipal Councillor of Diarkadougou. In addition to being a native of Diarkadougou and grandson of the customary authorities, he decided to become actively involved in gold mining. To this end, he succeeded in becoming the leader of the artisanal gold mining site of Diakardougou and became responsible for and head of the security post at the site after ousting the company that had been operating it without proper community support and involvement.
Dominique next to his crusher and his team. | AGC 2022
Now that conditions have changed on-site, Dominique has been able to work on actively formalizing Diarkadougou. When the STAG project approached him in November 2021 to see if he would be interested in becoming one of the main three intervention sites and also in participating in a training on the implementation of the OECD due diligence system operationalized through the CRAFT code, in the Southwest region in Dano he immediately agreed to engage and join. At the end of this training, Dominique, now acting as the site manager, and some members of the local management committee of the site created a cooperative called “Société Coopérative Simplifiée Gboum Gbanikou Adja Pikou d’Exploitation Minière Artisanale” (SCOOPS-GAP/EMA). With the new knowledge Dominique had gained from the training, he expressed his enthusiasm at the possibility of continued collaboration on the path to scaling up trade. As a result, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the STAG project and the Diarkadougou site.
Dominique and his team of diggers. | AGC 2022
The Diarkadougou site is now in the process of formalizing with an up-to-date site management agreement issued by “Agence Nationale d’Encadrement des Exploitations Minières Artisanales et Semi-mécanisées (ANEEMAS). The female miners at Diarkadougou are not on the sidelines. They intend to create a formal association of about 20 women who manage gold processing sheds and own galleries (mine shafts), in the coming months. Dominique is now the STAG focal point for Diarkadougou and is responsible for overseeing, managing and communicating all aspects of the STAG compliance standard at the site. To this end, Dominique’s cooperative would like to benefit from STAG’s support in order to better develop their activities. By the end of the project, Dominique and Diarkadougou will be scaling up their gold trade, while adhering to the responsible production due diligence standards of the OECD. This will empower them to continue to grow and improve.