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Bissa Gold Mine in Burkina Faso 3/4 owned by Russian Steel Magnate – multi-billionaire Alexey Mordashev. 200,000 trees were reportedly uprooted from a nature reserve to build it.
Nordgold's Bissa Gold Mine Complex Burkina Faso
(Image believed to be Nordgold’s Bissa mine, which strangely isn’t near Bissa.)
Nordgold Bissa gold mine Burkina zoom
Believed to be Nordgold Bissa Mine in Burkina Faso
Bissa Gold Mine, Nordgold BF, heap-leach processing plant
Believed to be the Bissa Gold Mine Heap Leach (probably cyanide) and processing facility
Nordgold Bissa Mine Tailings Damn
Believed to be Bissa Gold Mine, probably Tailings Dam

Mordashev owns 84.4% of Nordgold, which owns 90% of Bissa and Taparko Gold mines in Burkina Faso, with the Government of Burkina Faso owning the other 10%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordgold Mordashev is a multi-billionaire in US dollars.
Taparko Gold Mine, Nordgold, Burkina Faso
Believed to be Nordgold’s Taparko Gold Mine

Mining related revenue reported as received by Burkina Faso’s treasury in 2013 appears to significantly exceed debt service: 290 million euros (364 million $) mining revenue to the treasury in 2013 compared to service of the debt at 141 million euros in 2012. 149 million euros (187 million US dollars) difference or enough to give every man, woman and child in Burkina Faso eleven dollars. This is for many mines, not just these two.

Village Goats and Trees, CC-2.0,  by Tree Aid:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5113272665/
Village Goats and Trees, CC-2.0, by Tree Aid: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5113272665/
So, the people are poor, and the environment is being ruined, for what? Clearly, it would be better to use land for raising goats to provide milk; for agriculture; for agro-forestry, or to leave as forested nature reserve for both the environment and to bring in tourist monies. The gold is limited and acid mine drainage and other considerations make it virtually impossible to restore the environment.
Village Granary near Fada Burkina Faso, CC-2.0, by Tree Aid (2006):  https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5092313365/
Village Granary near Fada Burkina Faso, CC-2.0, by Tree Aid (2006): https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5092313365/
Burkina Faso:  Keeping and Harvesting Baobab Leaves a Valuable Dietary Supplement of Market Value, CC-2.0, by Tree Aid (2006):  https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5505299539/
Burkina Faso: Keeping and Harvesting Baobab Leaves a Valuable Dietary Supplement of Market Value, CC-2.0, by Tree Aid (2006): https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5505299539/
Tree Harvest in Burkina Faso (2008), CC-2.0 by Tree Aid:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5875963501/
Shea harvest in Burkina Faso (2008), CC-2.0 by Tree Aid: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53871588@N05/5875963501/ Shea Trees-Fruit are so valuable that they are called “women’s gold” by Burkinabé villagers, and unlike gold they are renewable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shea_nut_and_butter_production_in_Burkina_Faso

Clearly the only benefit of mining is for a very few people for a very short time period; for debt service and most likely for the purchase of weapons. [1] Burkina Faso has a whole department devoted to debt service.

There was a new mining code to be voted on in Burkina Faso, which apparently won’t be voted on for awhile since the parliament was burned down. It’s not clear if the new code was more or less beneficial to the people and the environment, but there was a new mining code to be voted on. A most important fact which seems to have passed largely unnoticed.

Who is Isaac Zida who became temporary head of Burkina Faso? And who was calmly “zen” [2] about his becoming head of government and who was not? From early reactions, it seems that most of the countries have been “zen” about Zida, with the exception of Canada, and of Russian funded or apparently Russian funded media. The BBC’s criticism of Zida, which actually seems a typo (they clearly meant Compaoré), also made us wonder[3]. Russia funded media (which doesn’t always tell us its source) proclaimed it a US led preventative coup. Is it? Maybe yes, maybe no. A French coup perhaps? Does anyone imagine that a Russian backed coup would be better? Russia has been reported as the most unequal society in the world, so certainly must be one of the most unequal. [Note that around the time that we wrote this post Zida was appointed Prime Minister after having just stepped down as President.]

What interests do Canada and Russia have to be excited about in Burkina Faso? GOLD. Canada and Russia are both surprisingly dependent upon extractive resources both within their countries and without and are laying the environment to waste. Canada must certainly be Mining Penny Stock capital of the world, as well. Furthermore, Russia (Gazprom) has oil, gas and uranium interests in the region, including a proposed Trans-Saharan pipeline in conjunction with Algeria’s Sonatrach and Italy’s Eni. Algeria is a top buyer of Russian weapons. And, speaking of Italy, the most “zen” statement comes from Corriere della Sera (tied to Fiat-Agnelli family) which noted as a title on Nov. 4th, Zida, Burkina Faso transition is legal (“Zida, transizione Burkina Faso è legale”). Some other Italian newspapers called it a coup, however. [4].

Probably most important is the suggestion that in the post-Compaoré period there would be an audit of mining revenues. In this context the recent (Aug. 6) suspicious looking bankruptcy-liquidation of the UK’s Amara, formerly Cluff, Gold’s Burkina Faso subsidiary (Seguénéga Mining SA (“SMSA”) appears interesting. Additionally declaring Force Majeure due to a coup would allow other, perhaps failing, mining companies to receive insurance monies.

area of Cluff-Amara Kalsaka Sega mine
Probable Kalsaka Gold mine with Sega extension. Note pits in upper left hand corner and in lower right hand corner connected by road.
Probable Amara Kalsaka Mine zoom
Probable Kalsaka Gold mine zoom of lower right corner
Probable Amara Sega extension mine
Probable Amara Sega extension to Kalsaka Mine, zoom of upper left corner.
The biggest institutional investor of Amara is (or was) reportedly the rather mysterious Franklin Advisers, Inc. which is a privately owned investment manager in San Mateo, California. The biggest fund investor is (or was) reportedly Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund. Better known J.P. Morgan is (or was) reported to be invested in comparatively tiny amounts. Amara was very sly and their mining subsidiary in Burkina was a separate subsidiary from their more costly to build, and hence valuable to liquidators, gold processing plant. Amara’s subsidiary SMSA received a default notice from BCM International (Bayswater Contracting originally a family firm of Australia) the mining contractor at Kalsaka/Sega. It would be interesting to know for how long BCM wasn’t paid? BCM is reported to have tried to get the Burkina Faso government to halt export of the last gold shipment, as payment, to no avail. The mining costs claimed by Amara appear excessive compared to the Burkina average and even more so if they did not pay the contractor doing the work! All and all it looks more than strange and certainly warranting an investigation. The 17th of November, Kaizen Discovery of Canada announced that it was selling its Kerboule Gold Project in Burkina Faso to UK-London listed Alecto exploration.

Recall this Reuters report: from 2007 to 2010, “For mineral-rich Burkina Faso, a west African gold producer, 100 percent of its exports to Switzerland over this period, accounting for 15 percent of all exports, also ‘vanished“. “The Swiss commodities connection in African poverty.” Fri, 27 Jun 2014 (Reuters) http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/basicmaterialsNews/~3/WtLwplrvvTI/africa-investment-idUSL6N0P83NG20140627

SEMAFO probably part
Probably part of SEMAFO Inc. of Canada mining complex, which in 2013, produced 158,600 ounces of gold at its Mana Mine, which includes the high-grade satellite Siou and Fofina deposits. The site includes Wona-Kona, Nyafé-F67, Fofina, Fobiri, Yaho, Maoula and Siou deposits.

One cannot escape the very simplistic notion that those who wanted to keep Compaoré may have the most to hide. And, with his departure there must be a great jockeying to find someone who will continue to hide whatever needs to be hidden. Given the value of the gold for a few people, although not for the many, there could be a lot which needs to be unveiled. One cannot exclude, however, that many people prefer the devil that is known to the devil that is unknown.

Less interesting than [now interim Prime Minister] Isaac Zida’s background, which will be examined in detail at the bottom of this post, the new “Civilian” interim President is Mr. Kafando who obtained a law degree from the University of Bordeaux in 1969, a degree in Science Po from the Institute of Political Science in Paris (1972) and a diploma from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and diplomatic training in Geneva, in diplomacy, in 1973. [4] He obtained his doctorate in Science Po at the U. of Paris-Sorbonne in 1990. He served within the Upper Volta and Burkina government and as permanent representative to the UN, and as Ambassador to Cuba. http://www.un.org/press/en/1998/19980415.BIO3152.html He’s probably considered a safe bet by some due to his diplomatic background and by others due to his age. At 72 years old he would be considered less likely to hold on to power for long, than a younger man. While Josephine Ouedraogo would more clearly represent change, the interim president is not allowed to run in the elections.

Mine near Youga Burkina Faso
Probable Youga Gold Mine
In passing we must mention reported 2013 conflict between miners and administration at the Youga mine owned by Burkina Mining Co. (BMC) a subsidiary of Canadian Endeavour Mining, and yet another blight on the environment. The Executive mining director is said to be Mamadou Zida. http://www.reporterbf.net/index.php/envoye-special/item/61-mine-d-or-de-youga. In such a small country one might guess a possible kinship tie between Mamadou and Isaac Zida, but if they represented the same interests then Canada should have been ecstatic about the coup, and they claimed not to be. The mine is on the opposite side of the country from Isaac Zida’s home, as well. Additionally, there were two notorious military men named Kafando – (H)yacinthe believed to have been involved in Sankara’s assassination and another, Marcel, believed involved in the assassination of the investigative journalist Norbert Zongo. Kin or coincidence? And, would it matter?
Memorial of the murder of Norbert Zongo. Highway near Sapouy, Burkina Faso 3 January 2013, CC-BY-SA-3.0, by Sputniktilt
Memorial of the murder of Norbert Zongo. Highway near Sapouy, Burkina Faso
3 January 2013, CC-BY-SA-3.0, by Sputniktilt

During the Cold War Russia and the US, Canada, and probably European countries, competed in Burkina and elsewhere, giving away scholarships to win the hearts and minds of the future government officials and leaders. France has always been there. But, did Russia really go away? It is the top weapons exporter to Algeria, which is one of Russia’s top clients. Russia also exports weapons to Burkina Faso. (See in Notes at bottom).

Russia’s Gazprom is actually an unmentioned player in Libya, Niger, Nigeria, and Russian oligarch-steel magnate Alexey Mordashov of Severstal is owner of Nordgold, and worth between approximately 11 and 19$ BILLION. Nordgold reportedly had 200,000 or more trees uprooted from a nature reserve which had long resisted drought, to build the Bissa Gold Mine. https://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/dossier_documentaire_atelier_exploitation_miniere.pdf#page27In Sabcé, the natural reserve within which the Company operates was the only reservoir of biodiversity in the area and today this heritage is endangered.http://www.iucn.org/?11316/1/GWP-WA-and-IUCN–PACO-capacity-building-Workshop-for-media-natural-and-human-imbalances-impact-on-sustainable-development-in-mining-areas
Nord Gold also holds the majority of Taparko gold mine via High River. Furthermore, “Nordgold has more than 30 exploration permits in Burkina Faso and is working on further exploration at the Lefa corridor in Guinea“. Alexey Mordashev owns about 84.4% of Nordgold, which owns 90% of the mines. The Burkina Faso state owns 10%, meaning that Mordashev owns about 3/4ths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordgold   Australian, UK and Canadian mining companies are among those present in Burkina Faso. At least some other mines impinge upon nature reserves, as might be expected with around 1/3rd or more of Burkina Faso under exploration permit by mining companies.
Temporary watercourse in Pama reserve, Burkina Faso (2002), by Marco Schmidt, CC-BY-SA 2.5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protected_areas_of_Burkina_Faso
Pama reserve, Burkina Faso (2002), by Marco Schmidt, CC-BY-SA 2.5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protected_areas_of_Burkina_Faso
And, after probably 1,000 or more years of gold mining where else would gold be found but in protected or agricultural zones? Plus there are the less sexy manganese and phosphate (found in fertilizer and cola) and there has been prospection for dangerous uranium mining. Essakane gold mine, a blight on the Sahel which displaced 13 villages [5], and is owned by Canadian mining company IAMGOLD, is said to be the biggest gold mine.
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mine_d%27Essakane http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mine_d%27Essakane
However, there have been some very high grade gold sites reported recently, which could excite covetousness by all. Whoever controls the gold could become very wealthy, especially a high grade site, which could be valuable even with a low gold price.

Already, according to a source at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the industrial exploitation of gold brought 190 billion francs CFA (290 million euros), or about 362 million US Dollars to the public treasury for a production of 32 metric tons of gold in 2013. http://www.publishwhatyoupay.org/fr/resources/relecture-du-code-minier-la-société-civile-appelle-à-la-responsabilité-des-parlementaires (290 million euros mining revenue in 2013 can be compared to service of the debt which was 141 million euros in 2012. The country has a whole department devoted to the debt!) http://unctad.org/divs/gds/dmfas/news/Documents/DMFAS_AGM2013_BurkinaFaso.pdf

This 362 million dollars could give the 16.9 million citizens of Burkina Faso twenty-two dollars each, but could make a hand-full of people wealthy. In 2011, mining revenues earned Burkina Faso 127 billion CFA (US$247 million). Between 2007 and 2011, it brought in 440 billion CFA, (837 million US $) [variation in figures due to exchange rates] )http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_industry_of_Burkina_Faso

How much more is being taken out of the country, even as its fragile environment is destroyed? The population of Burkina Faso has doubled since 1987 when Thomas Sankara, who was encouraging the use of birth control and food independence, was assassinated. And, the per capita income is at around $750 USD. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Burkina_Faso

If the environment is to be destroyed, how will the people survive? Much of the land is fragile.
Lalgaye village in burkina faso, 2004, CC-SA-3.0 by SoKr http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildlife_of_Burkina_Faso
Lalgaye village in Burkina Faso, 2004, CC-SA-3.0 by SoKr http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildlife_of_Burkina_Faso

Even with the declining price of gold, Burkina Faso’s interim leader, Zida, might have decided to take an independent route,although he is made in France, made in Canada, made in USA and even made in Taiwan, if you examine his very interesting background. Taiwan and China both appear zen about Zida. Nonetheless, he would also not have been the first soldier in history trained by empire who revolted against empire. [Zida is back in as Prime Minister, since we wrote this post. The situation will be at least one year shaking out until the elections. In that time anything can happen. He was born in Sankara’s hometown. ]

The French government is very capable of double crossing everyone, as they are currently doing with their involvement with Russia-South Stream via 85% French govt. owned EDF. (Italy is also involved in South Stream via largely government owned Eni). President Hollande of France helped Compaoré to escape and le Figaro, owned by Dassault, appeared “zen” about the overthrow of Compaoré. However, as part of the military industrial complex, with ties to nuclear, Dassault stands to win from either conflict, or from Burkina being a peaceful base of military ops to protect France’s nearby uranium mines in Niger. Win-win for Dassault.

Economic considerations appear to be a greater driver in French arms sales decision-making than matters of foreign policy. France has also frequently used foreign military sales as an important means for underwriting development and procurement of new weapons systems for its own military forces.http://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R42678.pdf (See more on this, EU, US, and Russian exports to Burkina Faso in Note 1 at the end of our post).

France has just arrived in the region with 3,000 troops. The USA is supposed to be sending about 3,900 for Ebola and has an unknown number already there. Burkina Faso’s military numbers 11,200 (army 6,400, Air Force 600, Police 4, 200). And 45,000 People’s militia (National Guard) that may be called to duty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_Burkina_Faso

France’s Recent Sahel Op, Operation Barkhane
French and Chad military participate in a flag ceremony to commemorate the launch of Operation Barkhane in Africa's Sahel region beginning in July 2014 3,000-strong French force The operation has been designed with five countries, and former French colonies, that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (U.S. Army Africa photos by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Martin S. Bonner)
French and Chad military participate in a flag ceremony to commemorate the launch of Operation Barkhane. Operation Barkhane is an anti-terrorist operation in Africa’s Sahel region beginning in July 2014. It consists of a 3,000-strong French force, which will be permanent and headquartered in N’Djamena, Chad. The operation has been designed with five countries, and former French colonies, that span the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. (U.S. Army Africa photos by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Martin S. Bonner) https://www.flickr. com/photos/usarmyafrica/15270917350/
If you’ve any doubts that that is a French Op-French General, here is General DeGaulle with the same hat!
General DeGaulle
A major concern of the US appears to be protecting the pipeline from Chad to Cameroon and other oil and gas interests in the region. For France it would be protecting its uranium mines, and the pipeline for its energy needs, as well as oil and gas interests in the region. There is also the debt service. If Burkina Faso doesn’t pay its debt then the taxpayers of the loaning governments will have to pay. The US, for instance, borrows money in order to loan it! See: http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42019.pdf The gold services the debt. The so-called “terrorists” may now indeed include Islamists, but also includes those non-Islamists protesting environmental destruction and exclusion from the benefits of the mining and/or the petroleum industry, along with Tuareg nationalists.

US Mil teaching in Burkina Faso U.S. Army Africa photo by Capt. Theresa Giorno
1st Lt. Robert Hundemer observes a Burkinabe student taking a measurement during a center of balance practical exercise. Hundemer and Sgt. 1st. Class Jeff Wernholm are part of the 299th Brigade Support Battalion from Fort Riley, Kan. They worked as a U.S. Army Africa-led, two-man Africa Deployment Assistance Partnership Team – Ground or ADAPT-G in Ouagdougou, Burkina Faso. The pair assisted 23 Burkinabe Armed Forces students to learn how to build deployment capacity for conducting peacekeeping, counterterrorism or humanitarian relief operations. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Capt. Theresa Giorno)

The US, Canada and others had to help protect French government owned Areva’s uranium mines (and surely other types of mines) in Operation Serval (a type of wildcat). Recall which three countries participated in the kidnapping of Haiti’s democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide? The US, Canada and France.

French soldiers air-lifted by US and Canada during Op Serval in Mali U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson
ISTRES, France — French soldiers march to a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in Base Aerieene 125, Istres, France. The C-17 can carry up to 170,900 pounds of cargo, and can be configured for a variety of loadouts, including aeromedical evacuation, cargo transportation and passenger movement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Richardson)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Serval

Isaac Zida biography based on translation from French wikipedia. Our commentary in brackets:
Transitional Head of State of Burkina Faso since November 1, 2014 [Just passed Presidency to a Civilian, Michel Kafondo, only to be appointed Prime Minister, which is probably a more powerful position.]
Preceded by Blaise Compaoré
Birth Name Isaac Yacouba Zida
Birth Date 16 novembre 1965 (48 ans)
Birth Place Yako (Haute-Volta)
Nationality Burkinabé (i.e. Burkina Faso)
Profession Military Officer

Isaac Yacouba Zida, born the 16 November 1965 à Yako [note that this is the birthplace of Thomas Sankara who was a military man who did revolt against empire], in the Passore Province, is a Burkinabé officer, designated Transitional Head of State of Burkina Faso by he army on the 1st of November 2014.

He is the father of three children. He fluently speaks Mooré, Dioula, French and English.

Until 1989, he studied the English language at the University of Ouagadougou, before entering the Military Academy Georges Namoano of Pô [Burkina Faso] in 1993. He holds a Masters in International Management from the University of IAE Lyon 3 [the French maitrise is 4 years of university after high school, but since the original says “Master” it may be an MBA. It would be interesting to know if this was prior to 1989 for some years of his life seem missing,which correspond to the Sankara years of 1983 to 87 – was he within Burkina or without? Was he one of the many of his generation who took scholarships from Russia? From Canada? From the US?]

He has had a varied foreign military formation: Meknès (Maroc), Taiwan, Canada, Yaoundé (Cameroon). In 1996 he became part of the Presidential Security Regiment of (RSP) of [former] “President” Blaise Compaoré as company commander, group commander, he was appointed Adjutant of the Chief of the RSP corps, the Colonel Boureima Kéré, with the grade of Lieutenant-Colonel. From 2002 to 2011, he was liaison officer in the framework of the Compaoré mediation during the Ivory Coast Crisis. From 2008 to 2009, he was a UN peacekeeper-observer in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2012, he participated in anti-terrorist training at the Joint Special Operations University in Tampa Florida [USA for 12 days].

Up until he rallied to the cause of the demonstrators, after the Chief of the Defense Staff (CEMGA) reportedly gave him the order to fire on the demonstrators, he defended the Kosyam Palace, last bastion of Blaise Compaoré. His men were essentially young lieutenants led by Lieutenant Flavien Kabore.

He took power on the evening of the 31st of October 2014 by declaring that he was assuming the responsibilities of Head of State of Burkina Faso. By this declaration, he suspended the 1991 Constitution and announced that a consensual transition government would be put in place.

By this declaration, he placed himself in opposition to General Honoré Traoré, the Chief of the Defense Staff, who had also claimed power after the resignation and the flight to Ivory Coast by the President earlier in the day. Close to former president Compaoré and a troubling personality, Traoré was not a unanimous choice, especially within the army.

The 1st of November 2014, the army through Brigadier General Pingrenoma Zagré, Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff, published and distributed a statement which affirmed its support of Zida as transitional president.

The Chief of the Defense Staff General Honoré Traoré is one of the signatories, which implied the renunciation of power. Lieutenant Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida, installed himself in the Kosyam Palace around 2h15 in the morning as President of the Nation, after having declared on the the private television station BF1: “I now assume the responsibilities of transitional leader and head of state leadership, to ensure the continuity of the state, waiting to define, by consensus with all political parties and civil society, the contours and content of a peaceful democratic transition”. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Zida (accessed ca November 4, 2014)

Zida’s birth place of “Yako is a town in northern Burkina Faso, once capital of a small state. It lies 109 kilometres (68 mi) north-west of Ouagadougou. Yako is known for its large mosque, and as the birthplace of Thomas Sankara.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yako

In French wikipedia we are told that a growing number of those living in Yako have been recently turning toward gold and manganese mines, which have opened near the town. The living conditions are difficult but the proposed salaries appear relatively attractive. The exodus toward the mines has caused closure of small stores. From a health perspective, the mines have increased respiratory diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases and drug use have increased. http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yako (Note that mining communities tend to be magnates of prostitution and hence breeding grounds for sexually transmitted diseases. Close quarters can facilitate the transmission of other diseases, as well. Then, of course, there are diseases associated with the mining dust, etc.).

Notes-References-Further Reading

[2] Please note that we are using “zen” as the slang word meaning calm, cool, and collected, aka “chilled”. Out of respect for peace activist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who suffered a severe brain hemorrhage shortly after we chose the name of this post, we probably should change the name, but cannot think of a better title. The post has already suffered constant disruptions. Furthermore, Zida appears and has a reputation for being calm, cool and collected himself.

[1] “Burkina Faso is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. U.S. exports to Burkina Faso include machinery, vehicles, aircraft, and rice. The top U.S. import from Burkina Faso is gold. Investment possibilities include Burkina Faso’s mining and communications sectors. The United States has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the West African Economic and Monetary Union, of which Burkina Faso is a member.http://www.state. gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2834.htm

An estimated $19.9 million in security assistance was given to Burkina Faso from FY 2010 to FY 2014. “From FY 2012 to FY 2013, the State Department also authorized a total of $18.5 million in commercial arms sales, including equipment related to military aircraft, personal protection and electronics, to Burkina Faso.” Reportedly not all has been delivered.
See: “Snapshot of U.S. Security Assistance to Burkina Faso After Military Take Over” 11/10/14 By William Tuleu and Colby Goodman, West Africa http://www.securityassistance.org/blog/snapshot-us-security-assistance-burkina-faso

In 2011, the United States ranked first in the value of arms deliveries to developing nations at $10.5 billion, or 37.6% of all such deliveries. Russia ranked second in these deliveries at $7.5 billion or 26.8%….
France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy—the four major West European arms suppliers—have supplied a wide variety of sophisticated weapons to a number of purchasers…
Economic considerations appear to be a greater driver in French arms sales decision-making than matters of foreign policy. France has also frequently used foreign military sales as an important means for underwriting development and procurement of new weapons systems for its own military forces… The four major West European suppliers (France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy), as a group, registered a decrease in their collective share of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations between 2010 and 2011. This group’s share fell from 14.9% in 2010 to 5.7% in 2011. The collective value of this group’s arms transfer agreements with developing nations in 2011 was $4.1 billion compared to a total of nearly $4.8 billion in 2010 (in current dollars). Of these four nations, France was the leading supplier with $2.7 billion in agreements in 2011. Italy, meanwhile registered $1.1 billion in arms agreements in 2011, down from $1.8 billion in 2010
http://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R42678.pdf
Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2004-2011“, by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr, August 24, 2012, US Congressional Research Service , 7-5700 http://www.crs.gov, R42678

TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRANSFERS“, 2013, by siemon t. wezeman and pieter d. wezeman , March 2014 SIPRI Fact Sheet,
The five biggest exporters in 2009–13 were the USA, Russia, Germany, China and France. Together they accounted for 74 per cent of the volume of arms exports. The USA and Russia alone supplied 56 per cent of all exports.http://books.sipri.org/files/FS/SIPRIFS1403.pdf
World military spending, 2013, Sub-Saharan Africa was 26.2 billion dollars, which is a 7.2. percent increase from 2012. http://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2014/04

…Russian authorities have been strengthening military-technical cooperation with a number of African countries…. in December 2011…Russia accounted for 11% of the volume of major arms supplied to sub-Saharan Africa. Rosoboronexport’s cooperation with traditional importers of Russian weapons from Africa include Algeria, … Burkina Faso, … ‘Military transfers and training by Russia are commercial deals as a way to make money. Ideology is not a significant factor.” Read article here: “As Russia maintains its status as the world’s second largest exporter of arms, it looks increasingly to Africa“, 4 APRIL 2013, BY KESTER KENN KLOMEGAH http://thinkafricapress.com/legal/russia-raising-arms-sales-africa

Russia eyes Africa to boost arms sales: Moscow’s two main exports are natural resources and weapons. Africa has plenty of former and plenty of demand for latter“, by Kester Kenn Klomegah for Think Africa Press, part of the Guardian Africa Network, theguardian.com, Thursday 4 April 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/04/arms-trade-africa

On Algeria as top arms importer in Africa and being third largest recipient international of Russian weapons: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armée_nationale_populaire_(Algérie)

5.1 million euros [$6.4 million] worth of military equipment exported from the EU to Burkina Faso in 2012: https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/export-licences-eu/export.en.html?year=-3&destination_iso2=BF
UK-EU military equipment exports: https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/burkina-faso

On August 5, 2000, Leonid Minin, an Israeli national(235) born in Ukraine and already known to the Italian and Belgian police for his trafficking activities, was arrested in his hotel near Milan. In his room, the police found non-declared diamonds,(236) large amounts of money, and about 1,500 documents in various languages (English, Russian, Dutch, French) on oil, timber, and arms transactions, mostly with Liberia, a country subject to a UN arms embargo since 1992 and a diamonds embargo since early 2001(237). He was briefly detained and then put under house arrest, but on June 21, 2001 was re-arrested, charged with arms trafficking and illegal possession of diamonds valued at 500,000 euros and remanded in custody. The Monza (Milan) Court’s public prosecutor charged Minin with organizing, in association with others, two arms shipments apparently destined for Burkina Faso’s National Defense Department and the Ministry of Defence of Cote d’Ivoire, respectively, but in fact directed to UN-embargoed Liberia and to the Liberia-backed RUF in Sierra Leone, also subject to a UN arms embargo.
[…]
Despite the implications of the Minin case, the Italian government had by mid-2005 still not closed the loophole in its laws to enable the prosecution of violations of UN arms embargoes and unauthorised arms brokering by persons living in Italy in instances where the arms do not pass through Italian territory. The governments of Spain and Slovakia continued to authorise the export of significant quantities of arms and ammunition to Burkina Faso in 2004, despite the Minin case and the further allegations in 2003 that Burkina Faso was a conduit for arms to Ivorian rebels.(256). Read the rest here. Search for Burkina within document
“: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT30/008/2006/en/cc241ea0-d434-11dd-8743-d305bea2b2c7/act300082006en.html
¶3. (SBU) Pretz listed Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, theRepublic of Central Africa, Chad, Gabon, Niger, Nigria, Rwanda, and Senegal as his African clients. He added these countries were not corrupt, and therefore the only ones with which he would do business. Asked for an example of how his
business works, Peretz explained that he recently supplied Burkina Faso with mobile multi-launch rocket vehicles, in which the vehicles were procured in Russia, the rockets and launchers from Romania, and the communications equipment from the Czech Republic.
http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/03/09TELAVIV729.html

[3] “Burkina Faso declares Michel Kafando interim president“, 17 Nov. 2014 The BBC spoke of “Col Zida’s attempts to suspend the constitution and crack down on dissent sparked fresh unrest late last month.http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30076907 Didn’t he declare a temporary state of emergency, which suspended the constitution? When and where were his attempts to “crack down on dissent”? Didn’t he participate in the coup to stop firing on civilians? Actually now we realize that this is a typo and that they meant President Compaore who tried to change the constitution and who citizens revolted against.

[4] The article appears to actually be from ANSA, which we only noticed at the last minute: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenzia_Nazionale_Stampa_Associata However, we have no time to evaluate all of the newspapers who are members and ownership, so will only discuss Corriere della Sera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corriere_della_Sera is owned by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCS_MediaGroup. Fiat is the largest shareholder:
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCS_MediaGroup. Fiat is controlled by the Agnelli family, who actually descend from the Bourbon (French) Royal House.

Fiat made military equipment for Mussolini and for Nazi Germany and as such the founding Agnelli family lost control in the post-war period only to come back after a couple of decades with a vengeance. Fiat was interested in open markets and export, in contrast to most Italian industrialists who through the Italian Confederation of Industry wanted to protect the domestic market. In “City for Sale: Intenational Financiers Take a Major North American City“, l’Etincelle, Henry Aubin says that the Agnellis “are to global engineering what the Rothschilds are to global finance.” (p. 227) It’s not clear how much this still is the case. At the time they owned Impreglio, which they seem to have lost control of. Through Exor – (51,39%) they hold controlling shares of Fiat S.p.A., CNH Industrial, Cushman & Wakefield, Juventus, Gruppo Banca Leonardo, The Economist. http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Agnelli_e_C. (article updated 8 nov. 2014, but the most recent reference listed is Jan. 2014.)
John Philip Jacob Elkann… was the chosen heir of Gianni Agnelli, his grandfather,… He is the Chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Chairman and CEO of Exor, an investment company controlled by the Agnelli family, which owns CNH Industrial, Juventus F.C., Cushman & Wakefield.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Elkann http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exor_(company) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SGS_S.A. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergio_Marchionne http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_S.p.A.#History http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Agnelli_e_C.

The newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, on Nov. 4, 2014 featured a story: “Burkina Faso: in migliaia in piazza contro il colpo di Stato” (Burkina Faso: thousands in the streets against the coup)
http://www. buongiorno.ilsole24ore.com/dal-mondo/art/2014-11-03/burkina-faso-in-migliaia-in-piazza-contro-il-colpo-di-stato.php “Il Sole 24 Ore … is an Italian national daily business newspaper owned by Confindustria, the Italian employers’ federation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Sole_24_OreThe General Confederation of Italian Industry (Italian: Confederazione generale dell’industria italiana), commonly known as Confindustria, is the Italian employers’ federation and national chamber of commerce, founded in 1910.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confindustria

On October 3, 2014, Engineering News of South Africa “CNH announces R500m Rosslyn truck plant investment” reported that CNH wants to use their new plant in Rossyln as a doorway to sub-Saharan African, especially for large infrastructure projects. http://www. engineeringnews.co.za/article/cnh-announces-r500m-plant-investment-at-sa-italy-summit-2014-10-03

CNH Industrial:
Owners: Exor S.p.A. (27.20%)
Exor S.p.A. (stylized EXOR) is an Italian-based investment company controlled by the Agnelli family (26th in the 2012 Fortune Global 500 list).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exor_(company) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNH_Industrial

[5] Regarding World War I, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace “trustees unanimously declared, ‘the most effective means of promoting durable international peace is to prosecute the war against the Imperial Government of Germany to final victory for democracy.” (The US entered the war very late, but still suffered about 24 times as many casualties as in Iraq and Afghanistan). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Endowment_for_International_Peace http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_in_World_War_I

[6] http://www.fian.org/what-we-do/case-work/burkina-faso-essakane/

Click to access 2013.03_Burkina_Faso_Essakane_Factsheet.pdf

Additional related reading

Exxon, Petronas, Chevron and the Chad Cameroon Pipeline: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad–Cameroon_Petroleum_Development_and_Pipeline_Project
http://abarrelfull.wikidot.com/chad-cameroon-oil-pipeline

Regarding French President Hollande’s helping Compaore’s escape: http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2014/11/04/burkina-faso-france-blaise-compaore-evacuation-cote-ivoire_n_6100132.html

Overview of mining companies in Burkina Faso from 2008
http://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08OUAGADOUGOU602_a.html

NB: Ownership and interests of companies and individuals are constantly changing. Also, the mines are difficult to find. (We have used the information available online to try to identify the mines). As such, we cannot guarantee the accuracy. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge. This is true for all of the posts on the blog. Furthermore, the purpose is to suggest lines of thought and research. It’s not the final word on anything.