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Out of Africa

Reposted from the Globe and Mail Letters to the Editor, January 26, 2016

Burkina Faso Foreign Minister Alpha Barry says youth unemployment and poverty are among the key causes of extremism in West Africa (Mounties Use Cellphone Data In Bid To Track Architects Of Terrorist Attack – Jan. 25).

He went on to pledge that Canadian mining companies – described as being among the country’s major private employers – and humanitarian groups will be safe there.

In fact, a recent IMF report on Burkina Faso stated that industrial mining (private, foreign-owned) created 9,000 direct and 27,000 indirect jobs, whereas artisanal mining (citizens of Burkina Faso and migrants) hosted 700,000 direct and 500,000 indirect jobs.

Foreign industrial mining often eradicates employment opportunities for local artisanal miners when they are pushed off resource-rich concessions. The IMF cites evidence of strong links between artisanal mining and poverty-reduction as incomes earned stay in local communities.

Canadian mining companies are in Burkina Faso not to create employment for youth or to reduce poverty, but to garner great returns on investment for Canadian shareholders.

Paula Butler, author, Colonial Extractions: Race and Canadian Mining in Contemporary Africa;Toronto

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