Soil and water pollution by gold processing: phytoremediation technology, solutions for removing pollution at your fingertips!

On April 29, 2022, the Dutch Development Organization SNV and the World Waternet Consortium (WWn) launched Component 2 of the Water Project, CLE du Développement Durable (ECDD), at the Nimbro Gold Mine in Nahuri Province. Thanks to phytoremediation technology developed by the Institute for Applied Science and Technology Research (IRSAT), the component works to restore the quality of water and soil degraded by chemicals. The integrated water resources project called Eau, CLE du Développement Durable (ECDD) is funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Burkina Fado for more than 12 million euros, or about 8 billion CFA francs.

The activities of Component 2 of the Water Project, CLE du Développement Durable (ECDD), were officially launched on April 29, 2022 in Nimbro, a rural commune of Ziu in Nahuri Province. This component is to restore water and soil quality using phytoremediation technology developed by the Institute for Applied Science and Technology (IRSAT).

According to Dr. Martine Diallo / Cone, IRSAT researcher and responsible for the implementation of phytoremediation, this technique is a technology of soil neutralization through the use of plants; There are several species of plants used for phytoremediation, and the plant selected for the Nimbro experiment is Chrysopogon zizanioides, imported from South India. The process will consist of planting 2 hectares of this species on the cultivated area. Thus, the roots will remove harmful substances from chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, which are used by gold miners.

Researcher, Dr. Martin Diallo / Kone, Phytoremediation Manager at IRSAT

This is an inexpensive technique that can restore large contaminated areas: “Chrysopogon zizanioides adapts to harsh conditions such as drought or fire. This is a plant that has a massive and very deep root system that eliminates soil contamination. It has a very good effect on wastewater, facilitates soil fertilization, as it introduces organic matter and facilitates water infiltration. It has many advantages, ”explained Dr. Martin Diallo / Cone. For the best result of the project, she invited the population to join and adopt this technology, including it in their daily activities.

The Nimbogo population welcomes with hope and hope the project to restore soil degraded by artisanal mining

Realizing the benefits of the project, the people of Nimbro welcomed the initiative. For them, this is a project that comes at the right time, as the use of chemicals is already beginning to negatively affect animal health and, of course, human health: “We welcomed the project with joy and pride. We will work with project managers to achieve the expected goals. Said the head of Nimbro, Naab Surigui.

Chief Nimbro gives dismissal for phytoremediation in his village Nimbrogo

Like the village head, Karim Songtoa, head of the gold mining department, says he is happy to welcome Nymbro’s site. “We are using cyanide, but we know that these actions are prohibited. But since we have nothing to do, it is this work that allows us to feed ourselves and send our children to school. We welcomed the project because the cyanide we use kills our own animals. Plants will help us restore water and soil for the happiness of our brothers and sisters. We are ready to cooperate with project stakeholders. “, he said.

ANEEMAS, support for the introduction of phytoremediation

The project is technically supported by the National Agency for the Supervision of Artisanal and Semi-Mechanized Mining (ANEEMAS). According to its managing director, Jacob Oedrago, gold mining in Burkina Faso has reached alarming proportions in recent years. According to him, more than 1,000 gold mining sites have been identified in satellite images in Burkina Faso, but 800 have been recorded by field teams.

In 2018, more than 600 facilities operated. Studies have shown that this activity produces from 9.5 to 25 tons of gold per year. These 9.5 tons are estimated at 230 billion CFA francs. It is an activity that supports more than 2 million Burkinabes and more than a million direct players in artisanal mining.

WWn ECDD Project Coordinator, Gislen Anselm Cabore

(3rd left)

Hence the need to monitor the sector, on the one hand, and eliminate the damage, on the other. “We are very pleased to welcome this project. One of our missions is to work on the restoration of objects that have degraded due to gold processing. Until then, our strategy was to restore forests and plant trees in winter. Today, this new technology, developed by IRSAT, allows us to have a fairly stable installation that will facilitate recovery, excluding chemicals that gold washers and artisanal miners use in their activities. In addition, the use of these products is, of course, prohibited, but people go beyond the rules, ”said the CEO of ANEEMAS.

Explanation by WWn project coordinator Gislan Anselm Cabore, ECDD is funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands for a period of 4 years, from 2020 to 2024. Its overall goal is to promote the resilience of the population in the territories. Objectives by increasing livelihoods and access to water, hygiene and sanitation services and, as an indirect impact, promoting the sustainable management of water resources and their domestic and industrial use in fragile areas of the Burkina Faso watershed.

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The name of the plant species used

Chrysopogon zizanioides

Characteristics of the plant:

Herbaceous plant with a massive and powerful root system

Non-invasive plant: no seeds; plays for


Resistant to diseases and pests

drought-resistant plant


Other uses of the plant

Participates in soil fertilization

Reduces water runoff

Can be used as a living hook

Participate in the protection of banks …

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