One of SEM’s major objectives is to organize artisanal and small-scale gold mining, an industry with major economic and social impacts, through the implementation of the Emerging Gabon’s main principles.
Gold has been exploited in Gabon since the early twentieth century. Since 1937, it is estimated that at least 40 tons of gold were extracted from various existing artisanal and small-scale mines on the entire national territory. The major part of this production comes from the processing of alluvial gold.
In 1990, the Ministry of Mines, which was present on the artisanal and small-scale gold mining areas to buy the gold mined, registered more that 1,500 gold artisan miners and the existence of a smuggling network towards the north (Congo, Cameroon, etc.). Further to the Ebola epidemic in 1994 and attacks against its representatives, the Ministry of Mines was forced to abandon that policy.
These last years, the artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Gabon has been characterized by several major issues:
In line with the strategy for an Emerging Gabon to upgrade the exploitation of its natural resources for its economic development, the government decided to restructure the artisanal and small-scale gold mining and become the exclusive buyer of gold in Gabon.
The creation, by SEM, of the Comptoir Gabonais de Collecte de l’Or (CGCO), its wholly-owned subsidiary, is the result of the government’s will. CGCO aims to:
Organizing gold buying and collection implies in the long run to give the artisanal and small-scale gold mining a status, to aim at the empowerment of artisan miners, to strengthen their capabilities and turn them into real economic players through the creation of a value chain, from the artisanal and small-scale gold miner to the final buyer, via the middlemen.
CGCO started its activities in 2013, the year during which they collected a total volume of 42.9 kg of gold dust and nuggets. That production was sold to the Gabon’s Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, government-owned financial institution, for USD1.6 million. Over 2014, the objective is to double such volume and achieve 100 kg.
CGCO is progressively implementing a policy for the regulation and technical assistance on the main areas of artisanal and small-scale gold mining with the view to improve the economic efficiency of the artisanal and small scale mines for the benefit of Gabon and miners, to improve the working and living conditions of the miners and to mitigate the impact on the environment. SEM launched various innovations so as to facilitate such restructuration.
In addition to punctual missions, CGCO launched in 2013 a policy for the opening of buying centres enabling them to buy gold, regulate the industry through a constant presence and provide miners with technical assistance. Two first buying centres were opened, one in Makokou in west of Gabon and the other one in Ndjolé in central Gabon. Overtime, the network of artisanal and small-scale gold mining areas will be carried out through a structure including:
CGCO created « Gold App », an application running on Android and which makes it possible to secure the traceability of the gold logistic chain, from the extraction sites to SEM’s office. It also allows the generation of a database on the gold mining industry.
CGCO’s representatives are equipped with smart phones in which they record all the information (gold quantity, buying price and place) while collecting gold.
Two additional innovations were implemented to enhance transparency:
Determined to professionalise the artisanal and small-scale mining activities and then contribute to the social development of miners, CGCO launched some assistance for artisanal gold miners:
Two partnerships were concluded to mitigate the impact of the artisanal activities on the environment: