Mali Receives Artisanal Gold Mining Boost amid Safety Concerns
Mali plans to boost funding opportunities for its artisanal miners and to improve the policing of a sector that produces about a third of the country's gold exports, officials said at the start of a mining reform meeting.
Artisanal gold mining is plagued by frequent fatal accidents, smuggling and reports of child labour while environmental issues have also been caused by the lack of geographical restrictions on miners.
This all occurs despite Mali being the continent’s third largest gold miner, accounting for 30 percent of the 67.4 tonnes it exported in 2013.
Artisanal mining is on the rise in Mali as neighbours including Ghana, Senegal and Burkina Faso have imposed restrictions on the sector, driving more miners into Mali.
Speaking at the meeting, Abdoulaye Pona, president of Mali's chamber of mines, and mines minister, Boubou Cisse, said the government was negotiating with banks to give miners easier access to financing for equipment and newly formed cooperatives would be supervised and revenues distributed equitably.
"With this system, the miners will no longer continue to dig holes from right to left, here and there. Mining will be done in selected corridors and at the end of the activities we will close the holes to restore the ecosystem," Pona said.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, also at the meeting, called on miners to end the practice of child labour.
"We will not allow children into gold mining sites," he said, "We have to stop this."
A 2011 report by Human Rights Watch detailed reports of children aged six to 17 in Mali's artisanal mines digging pits, working underground in unstable mines, carrying and crushing heavy ore, and using toxic mercury to extract gold.
At least 16 people were killed and eight injured when a shaft in an artisanal gold mine some 130 kilometres south of Mali's capital Bamako collapsed last week.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.