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Niamey Declaration of June 11, 2021 “For a responsible mining activity and a 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. Approximately 2 million people are involved and this number is steadily increasing, leading to social tensions and environmental impacts on different spatial and temporal scales that need to be better understood in order to provide sustainable control solutions built and accepted by all
actors.

Artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining addresses many development issues: poverty alleviation – MDG 1, decent work and economic growth – MDG 8, responsible production and consumption – MDG 12, protection of terrestrial fauna and flora – MDG 15, etc. The construction of viable solutions to address the issues raised requires the implementation of new paradigms based on a multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary dialogue.

To this end, academic, public, private and civil society actors met for the first time at this scale from all over West Africa in Niamey from June 7 to 11, 2021 in the framework of the ACE Partner workshop on “Multiscale Approaches to the Impacts of Artisanal and Industrial Gold Mining in West Africa” and discussed the issues, methodologies and research perspectives for responsible mining for sustainable development and the conditions necessary to
to be part of this trajectory.
Throughout the week, the ACE Partner project brought together all West African stakeholders and promoted the need to strengthen research and training in order to build the trajectories of a mining activity in transition, increasingly responsible and taking into account all issues.

They jointly declare the need to :

  1. Creating bridges for multi-stakeholder dialogue:
    The lack of connection between academic actors of excellence, 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. Thus, all the bearers of this knowledge are committed to dialogue in a spirit of trust and in places and times that are better identified within each community (academic, public, private).

  2. To understand the problematic of artisanal and semi-industrial gold mining as a whole via an interdisciplinary and co-elaborated 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 diversified 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. At the same time, the use of harmful processing practices (notably mercury and cyanide), 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 to a strong societal vulnerability.
    The multiple problems require the creation of an action research capable of understanding how to combine these economic, social and environmental development issues to identify multi-scale solutions: local, national and regional.

  3. Identify and share innovative solutions for a community of practitioners:
    Many solutions, based on science, the conception of nature as a commons, local cultural content and new technologies (digital, satellite…) exist. They need to be shared, tested and filtered at scale via the gateways mentioned above. Also, learning around good practices must be prioritized to correlate responsible mining and revenue generation (public and private).
    A better organization of the industry, through responsible communities linked to the academic and public sectors, could relay these innovations. The objective would be, based on 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 overall governance, and to guarantee better living conditions for populations and integrate the restoration of mining sites at all stages of the exploitation process.

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

    The regulatory framework, while constantly evolving to address the unprecedented growth of 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 exploitation 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 allow for the harmonization and sharing of modes of governance between states, via the competent regional organizations, based on a dialogue that is strongly rooted locally and involves common law and customary law in particular.

  5. Formalize and track appropriate indicators for monitoring responsible mining activity:
    Data for monitoring gold mining activity exists. However, they are fragmented and fragile and do not allow for reliable decision-making at the various levels of governance. Measuring the impacts of the activity on the economic, environmental and social sectors will allow the establishment of a shared and 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 actors in the mining arena, also associated with the objectives of sustainable development, the actors present in Niamey are committed to sharing and enhancing the data necessary for strategic decision-making (public and private) through the development by research of dedicated observatories, around African centers of excellence and their local, regional and international partners.

YOU WANT TO BECOME A SIGNATORY OF THE CHARTER FOR RESPONSIBLE MINING?

The signatories of this declaration commit to work together to achieve the goals of this declaration. It will serve as a strategy for monitoring our actions and will formalize the community of experts and practitioners invested in responsible mining as a vector of sustainable development.
Contact us: patrice.ebah@ird.fr

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