Senegal sets out to secure fairer partnerships in mining sector

Senegal's recently elected president, Bassirou Dioumaye Faye, has promised to renegotiate mining, gas and oil contracts signed with foreign companies. At a top-level summit in Paris this week, his mining minister set out how the new government plans to break away from old practices and alliances.

Speaking at this year’s Mining on Top Africa (Mota) conference, Birame Souleye Diop, Senegal's minister of energy and mines, said his government intends to review the contracts of mining companies that do not fulfil their environmental obligations.

“A few days ago, I visited Kedougou,” Diop said, referring to the region that houses most of Senegal’s industrial and artisanal gold mines.

Located 700 km east of the capital, Dakar, and close to the Malian border, it is one of the country’s poorest regions. It is also subject to widespread contamination.

“The water of Falame river is totally polluted, animals are dying, children are dying, forests have been decimated,” Diop said.

“This because of poisoning by cyanide and mercury used for gold mining. This is not fair.”

Beyond European investment

The environmental degradation in Kedougou has been documented for years now. According to the Institute for Security Studies, 3.9 tonnes of mercury is used in the region every year, creating health risks for miners and residents alike.

The annual meeting aims to foster partnerships between Europe and Africa.

Diop also insisted that foreign companies should share technology with Senegal rather than simply extracting its primary materials.

Read more on RFI English

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