PARTIALLY FALSE: These so-called sanctions for illegal gold mining are not included in Mali’s new mining law | by PesaCheck | Jun, 2024

The new mining code adopted in 2023 imposes a three-year prison sentence and a fine of five million CFA francs for illegal mining.

This Facebook post claiming that the Malian Mining Code of 2023 imposes a prison sentence of two to five years and a fine of 10 to 50 million CFA francs on illegal foreign gold miners is PARTIALLY FALSE.

The post also carries images purporting to show a new brigade fighting illegal gold mining in Mali.

The post contains five photos showing a military contingent, white men arrested between two soldiers, 4×4 vehicles and military pickups, as well as the photo of Colonel Sadio Camara, Minister of Defense of Mali.

These images are accompanied by a caption indicating, among other things: “Did you know: A new brigade set up against illegal gold mining (…), The new special brigade set up by the Ministry of Mines and The Ministry of Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development carried out its first outing, on Tuesday April 30, 2024, in the commune of Dabia, Kenieba circle. According to our details obtained, the operation made it possible to arrest thirteen (13) illegal gold miners of foreign nationality and to dismantle seven (7) fraudulent exploitation sites (…), The new mining code of Mali, promulgated in 2023, has toughened sanctions against illegal gold panning by foreigners. Illegal gold miners now face a prison sentence of two to five years and a fine of 10 to 50 million CFA francs (…).”

PesaCheck has reviewed the contents of this publication and finds that there are no specific sanctions against foreigners in Mali’s new mining code.

A Google search for the keywords “Mining Code, 2023, Mali” made it possible to find the exact content of these texts published in the Official Journal of Mali in September 2023.

The sanctions incurred by people who engage in illegal gold panning are defined in article 209, page 30 (890) of the Mining Code. This article provides in fact, “a prison sentence of three (03) years and a fine of five million (5,000,000) CFA francs among others to all those who engage in research or exploitation work mineral substances subject to the mining regime without holding an appropriate title; and to those who engage in illegal gold panning.”

The law does not provide for different penalties for nationals and foreigners. The statement also does not correspond to what the law provides.

Furthermore, do the images of armed soldiers associated with this publication show the brigade supposed to flush out illegal gold miners?

A Google search for the keywords “brigade, mining, Mali” revealed several articles, including a note posted on the Facebook page of Mali’s Ministry of Mines. This note reports the actions of a special brigade set up by the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of the Environment, Sanitation and Sustainable Development.

Contacted by telephone, Baye Coulibaly, communications manager for the Mali Ministry of Mines, confirmed that “the two photos below were taken during an operation carried out on Tuesday April 30, 2024 by a brigade fighting against the illegal exploitation of the country’s mineral resources”.

Machines seized and people arrested by the brigade fighting illegal mining, April 30, 2024. Photo credit: Ministry of Mines of Mali

To corroborate this statement, PesaCheck undertook a reverse image search. The photo showing soldiers in black military uniform was already available on the internet in 2019, well before the creation of the unit to fight illegal mining in Mali. As for the photo showing pick-ups with armed soldiers, it was taken by Frédéric Pétry and Hans Lucas of theAgence France-Presse (AFP) and highlights “a joint patrol of French soldiers from the Barkhane force and those from the Malian armed forces of the G5 Sahel”.

PesaCheck reviewed a Facebook post claiming that Mali’s 2023 Mining Code provides for a prison sentence of two to five years and a fine of 10 to 50 million CFA francs for illegal foreign gold miners and found it PARTIALLY FALSE.

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