Uncontrolled artisanal gold mining in Kayes is damaging the environment and fuelling trafficking and local conflicts.
Mali’s artisanal gold mining sector regularly uses chemicals and dredges rivers, despite these practices being prohibited. The consequences for human health, environmental sustainability and local stability are dire.
The western region of Kayes is among the most severely affected. It produced an estimated 73% of the country’s 26 tons of artisanal gold in 2019 and generated US$1.23 billion.
Artisanal gold miners mostly use mercury and cyanide to separate gold from other minerals. Institute for Security Studies (ISS) research shows that these chemicals are smuggled into Mali from Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Senegal through illicit trafficking routes.
Mali’s government estimates that 33.3 tons of mercury enter the country illegally every year, most of which (28 tons) is used in Kayes. The chemical is readily available throughout the region, with 10 grams priced between US$2.5 and US$3.4.
Little official data exists on the quantity of cyanide used. However, cyanidation ponds have multiplied near villages and mining sites in the region’s Sadiola and Kéniéba localities in the past five years. This has occurred as artisanal miners renowned for having mastered the chemical have moved into the area from Burkina Faso.
For the rest of this article: https://issafrica.org/iss-today/going-for-gold-in-western-mali-threatens-human-security