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Increasing Local Participation and Benefit in Mali’s Mining Sector

By: Amadou Keita, Moussa Djire, Kadari Traore, Kader Traore, Djibonding Dembele, Arouna Dembele, Mamadou Samassekou, Moussa Doumbo

In Mali, land and natural resources are central to economies and societies. The livelihoods of most rural people are based on these resources. In recent years, outside players have also become increasingly interested in Mali’s natural resources – particularly valuable subsoil resources like minerals. Mali’s mining sector has grown greatly since the early 1990s, with a surge in gold mining activities by domestic and foreign investors attracted by the country’s rich deposits. Mining on an industrial scale is now a major activity and the second largest source of export income after cotton.

But while the state receives revenues from mining operations, some observers have criticised the negligible benefits received by local communities and the evictions and environmental pollution caused by mining activities. Macroeconomic figures about the contribution of mining to GDP or foreign exchange do not say much about the impacts (positive and negative) that mining is having at the local level – for instance, in terms of security of local land rights, and local participation in investment decisions and benefits.

This draft report was presented at a workshop in Bamako in November 2007, which was attended by representatives from communities in the two mining areas, political and administrative officials and representatives from NGOs.This publication is a synthesis of the information gathered in the field, through the legal analysis, and at the workshop in Bamako.  The objective was to identify the difficulties local communities experience in their dealings with external actors, especially investors, and to identify the legal tools that may enable them better to defend their interests.