(Bloomberg) -- Burkina Faso’s military rulers are seeking to process more of its gold locally to ensure control over the country’s main source of revenue following a drop in output.
Production sank 15% last year as the government battled a sprawling Islamist insurgency, with attacks increasingly targeting the mining industry. The West African nation, which exports the vast majority of its gold, is now looking to build a refinery to boost the value it gets from mining the commodity.
“The refinery is necessary,” Interim President Ibrahim Traore said in an interview with state broadcaster Radiodiffusion Television du Burkina. It’s among proposed changes to the sector that “we need to see to imperatively.”
Traore seized power in September in the second coup in six months, promising to step up the fight against the militants that control almost half the country’s territory. Russia’s Nordgold halted operations at the Taparko concession in April, saying workers’ lives were in danger. In August, gunmen killed six in an attack on a convoy returning from Endeavour Mining Corp.’s Boungou mine.
The government aims to increase security so that shuttered mines can reopen, Traore said. A review of the mining code will be ready soon, he said, adding that the treatment of mining waste is also a “very important” issue.
Gold accounted for 37% of Burkina Faso’s total exports in 2020. Output was estimated at 58 tons last year, down from 68 tons a year earlier.
A fifth of mining royalties collected by the state and 1% of mining-company revenues go into a government-managed fund that finances development projects in local mining communities and elsewhere.
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