On this weeks Blog Post Sustainable Artisanal Gold Mining we have Erik Lindamood Investor Relations at Barksanem™, Erik has over 15 years of Sales and Marketing experience, Erik has worked in sales consulting in France, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic and United Arab Emirates. Shifting his entire focus to Western Africa in 2008, Erik extensively developed and marketed gold trade investment opportunities for private investors. He joined Barksanem™ in January of 2014. Today he is responsible for Investor Relations and Optimizing Gold Monetization.
We met recently through Corey Keller and I have enjoyed our chats over Whatsapp and was intrigued to hear more about the projects so am glad you accepted to do a blog post for our Q&A, so lets kick it off!
1. Can you tell us about yourself to start this week’s blog off?
Thank you, Spencer, for the opportunity. You’ve been producing some great content on your blog and I look forward to each new post!
To start, I could say that I have been in the gold sector since 2008. I initially was involved in helping private investors purchase physical gold in Ghana. However, that was clearly not how I saw my involvement in the gold industry long term. I wanted to be involved on the extraction side, if I wanted to help remediate the systemic challenges within artisanal and small-scale mining. That is why I joined Barksanem™ in 2014.
2. Tell us about how Barksanem™ came about and what’s your role there?
Barksanem™ was born out of an initial artisanal mining experience in the 2000s in Burkina Faso. After having suspended operations, two of the founding members of Barksanem™ took advantage of this phase to work on recreating a mining company that would not only be a viable and profitable business in the artisanal and semi-industrial mining sector, but would also be a concrete and practical response to the many problems they faced during their initial operations. It is important to note that in Burkina Faso nearly 5 million people are involved and impacted by artisanal gold mining in one way or another. The exploitation of children, the extremely dangerous work for pregnant women, the environmental and sanitary pollution through the use of chemical products, etc. have compelled Barksanem™’s founding team to seek effective, tangible and practical solutions in order to meet the challenges of the ASM sector in Burkina Faso and in all the producing countries. Since I joined the company, I have been focusing on Investor Relations.
3. Why did Barksanem™ choose Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa for the first location?
There are several reasons for this. First of all, one of the founding members of Barksanem™ is from Burkina Faso and many of the team members live in this country. Additionally, Barksanem™’s founders’ initial operations took place in Burkina Faso, they have developed a very strong network of relationships in the sector. Burkina Faso is also a strategic choice because of its location in West Africa and because of the mineral reserves that have been discovered in recent years. We can also add that government policy in the country is very favorable to the development of mining and in particular in its intention to support the artisanal sector.
4. Where are you in development of that site?
Three concessions were allocated to Barksanem™ by the ASM regulatory agency in Burkina Faso. Numerous field meetings were organized with chiefdoms, administrations and artisanal gold miners’ representatives in order to prepare the arrival of Barksanem™ and its plans for the sustainable development of the territories as well as the mining operations. Everything is now ready to implement Barksanem™’s mining operations which includes the artisanal gold miners already working on these 3 sites. Barksanem™’s role will be to provide, amongst many other things, support to these artisanal gold miners under the supervision of the Ministry of Mines and its agency for ASM.
5. What hurdles have you faced so far from the industry
Barksanem™’s overall strategy and business model, which integrates the sustainable artisanal gold mining development of its territories, is relatively innovative in the mining industry. Consequently, since its inception, in many respects, Barksanem™ has not been considered by the mining community, as well as investors as a business but rather as an NGO. And in the NGO and institutional circles we are considered as a business and therefore not compatible with certain directives of NGOs and with the funds that are generally accessible… However, from our point of view and according to the philosophy of our team, the activity of any business is not incompatible with the development of territories, especially if this development is done sustainably. This misunderstanding, even if things have progressed, has been and still is a major obstacle to the successful funding of our company.
6. In our recent discussing you alluded to a Licensing model; can you tell us more about that here in respect to the sustainable artisanal gold mining business?
Indeed, in 2017 we formed Barksanem, Inc. in the USA, a corporation whose purpose is to commercialize the know-how of the Barksanem team in the area of ASM and sustainable development. This License can be acquired by mining project holders or stakeholders in the mining field: ASM, LSM and artisanal gold miners’ cooperatives. The License includes all our technical and organizational know-how, support for micro-collectivities in the target territories, complete tracking and securing of the production chain from the mine shaft to the end consumer. In addition, the Licensee receives specialized training, five years of support and access to the professional network that Barksanem and its partners have developed throughout the world. To date, Barksanem Inc. has Licenses sold or in the process of being sold in several countries in Africa and Latin America.
7. What NGO’s are you working with if any to increase awareness?
Essentially NGOs working directly with ASMs. For example, ARM or BetterChain. More broadly however, several of Barksanem™’s members are from the NGO world and have maintained close relationships with people with expertise in education, agriculture, health, etc.
8. Have you seen much by way of media coverage around the Small & Artisanal mining sector?
Things have progressed significantly in terms of the understanding the day-to-day realities of the ASM sector. In this respect, we can recognize the enormous lobbying and awareness-raising work of the OECD and many NGOs dealing with the harsh realities on the ground. However, from my point of view, communication on these realities remains relatively confidential and specialized. Much remains to be done to ensure that the general public has access to this information and is interested in it and I think that “success stories” will go a long way to ensure media coverage.
Overall, we have noticed that things have really shifted in recent years to take into account the local dynamics of ASM. Yet, at a government level and within some institutions, the transition to concrete actions, i.e., the implementation of actions consistent with the ongoing discussions is very slow. There is still political reluctance in some places, fears of not being able to really control artisanal gold miners and their practices. And this is most certainly justified! But this should in no way slow down the decisions that need to be taken, in the Mining Codes of these producing countries, for example. But it is also necessary to mobilize investors. Many do not even consider investing in the world of ASM or in real impacts on territories. And let’s be honest, even if here again things seem to be changing in the right direction, the African continent remains left out of investments while the ASM sector still remains to be developed and largely financed!
10. The Minamata Convention on Mercury has been successful in many countries to date but we often see mercury replaced with cyanide in leaching for example, what is Barksanem™ doing to eradicate these types of chemicals from its processing to better the environment and human life?
This is part of our commitment and our know-how. There are methods that can definitively eradicate the chemical treatment of ore. I could mention the field of “phytomining“, for example, and that is by far not the only one. In reality, the problem is not so much the technology but rather the training and support of those working in the field. This is again what we want to develop through our License. And even more with our mining operation in Burkina Faso which is our R&D and training center, in order to maintain continuous improvement in the face of the current and future challenges in the field.
11. How have you found raising capital for small mining projects and are you still open for new funding at this stage?
In the past few years, we have had numerous calls from intrigued investors but for the reasons mentioned earlier and the dichotomy that exists in our space, they have never followed through. So, the short answer is yes, we are open to funding. There are two main areas of focus: Barksanem™ in Burkina Faso, our semi-industrial mining company working inclusively with artisanal miners and Barksanem Inc where we are marketing the Barksanem™ License. If either of the two interests your readers, please do not hesitate to get back with me.
12. If anyone wants to reach out to you and connect where can they find you and Barksanem™ online?
Yes, thanks for asking!
Read more about Barksanem™ on our website here
Follow Barksanem™ on LinkedIn here
Contact me on LinkedIn here