Niamey Declaration of June 11, 2021 "For responsible mining and sustainable development".

The development of artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining in the countries represented (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal) is unprecedented. Some 2 million people are involved, and this number is rising steadily, leading to social tensions and environmental impacts at different spatial and temporal scales, which need to be better understood in order to find sustainable solutions that are built and accepted by all

Artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining addresses a number of development issues: the fight against poverty - MDG 1, decent work and economic growth - MDG 8, responsible production and consumption - MDG 12, protection of terrestrial flora and fauna - MDG 15, etc. Building viable solutions to address the issues raised calls for new paradigms based on multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary dialogue.

With this in mind, academic, public, private and civil society players met for the first time on this scale from all over West Africa in Niamey from June 7 to 11, 2021 as part of the ACE Partner workshop on "Multiscale approaches to the impacts of artisanal and industrial gold mining in West Africa" and discussed issues, methodologies and research perspectives for responsible mining for sustainable development, and the conditions necessary for
this trajectory.

They jointly declared the need to :

  1. Building bridges for multi-stakeholder dialogue:

    The lack of connection between leading academic players, public decision-makers and private operators hinders the sharing of experience and knowledge. This sharing is key to the creation of an ecosystem capable of co-constructing solutions adapted to local social, economic and cultural contexts. In this way, all knowledge holders are committed to dialogue in a spirit of trust, based on better-identified timeframes and venues within each community (academic, public, private).

  2. Understand the problem of artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining in its entirety through an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach:

    Artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining is a societal fact, dependent on an easily accessible (and non-renewable) resource, which also addresses complex and diverse rural development issues through the land issue.
    It generates a real but unequal source of income for a segment of the population that is often rural and poor, with limited access to education and health care. At the same time, the use of harmful processing practices (notably mercury- and cyanide-based), the partial or absent assessment of environmental impact (on ecosystems, biodiversity, water, etc.), health impact (exposome, transmissible and emerging diseases) and social impact (inequalities, migration, violence, child labor, governance) contribute to the degradation of mining territories and high societal vulnerability.
    These multiple issues require the creation of action research capable of understanding how to combine these economic, social and environmental development challenges to identify multi-scale solutions: local, national and regional.

  3. Identify and share innovative solutions for a community of practitioners:

    Numerous solutions exist, based on science, the concept of nature as a common good, local cultural content and new technologies (digital, satellite...). They need to be shared, tested and filtered at scale via the gateways mentioned above. Learning from best practices should also be a priority, to correlate responsible mining and revenue generation (public and private).
    Better organization of the industry, via responsible communities linked to the academic and public sectors, could relay these innovations. The aim would be, on the basis of better shared knowledge, to better formalize and secure activities, to limit the use of harmful practices while optimizing production levels, to regulate markets, to improve governance overall, and to guarantee a better quality of life for populations and integrate the restoration of mining sites into all stages of the exploitation process.

  4. Rethinking the regulatory framework for artisanal gold mining via this
    multi-stakeholder approach and within a regional logic:

    The regulatory framework, although constantly evolving to cope with the unprecedented boom in artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining in West Africa, requires consideration of all the economic, social and environmental issues raised. The volatile, rural and artisanal nature of mining sometimes leads to rampant exploitation that cannot comply with current legislation. These cross-cutting issues are shared by all the countries present. A regional approach
    would enable us to harmonize and share modes of governance between states, via the relevant regional organizations, conducted on the basis of a strongly locally rooted dialogue involving common law and customary law in particular.

  5. Formalize and monitor appropriate indicators for responsible mining:

    Data on gold mining activity do exist. However, they are fragmented and fragile, and do not enable reliable decision-making at the various levels of governance. Measuring the impacts of the activity on the economic, environmental and social sectors will enable the implementation of a shared, transdisciplinary monitoring framework to more accurately measure the impact (positive and negative) of artisanal, semi-industrial and industrial gold mining on communities. Based on indicators co-developed by all
    players in the mining arena, and also associated with sustainable development objectives, the players present in Niamey are committed to sharing and enhancing the data needed for strategic decision-making (public and private) through the development of dedicated observatories by research, around African centers of excellence and their local, regional and international partners.

The signatories of this declaration commit to working together in support of this declaration. It will serve as a strategy for monitoring our actions and formalize the community of experts and practitioners committed to responsible mining as a vehicle for sustainable development.