Thank you very much for your commentary today. I really appreciate it.
With the exception of Mali.... I have been in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, and Benin. I've spent some time there. As part of the Canada-Africa parliamentary delegation that went there, I had the opportunity to visit the Essakane mine in Burkina Faso.
I'm going to refer to a report that was tabled in the House of Commons a year and a half ago. I'm going to commend that to the committee. I know it's been written in both official languages, Mr. Chair, so I will ensure that copies are spread.
We had the opportunity to visit with President Compaoré and have a lengthy discussion with him about the things going on in Burkina Faso. With regard to the $450 million investment that IAMGOLD had made in Burkina Faso, he told us, first of all, that they had found suitable conditions to invest. He said that procedures had been cleaned up and a framework had been arranged to encourage that kind of investment.
We also had a meeting with the Minister of Mines, Quarries, and Energy, His Excellency Abdoulaye Abdoulkader Cissé. He told us that the country had gone from issuing 12 mining permits in 2000 to 430 mining permits today. Canadian companies lead with 15 permits, and they have seven mines in production.
During our visit to the IAMGOLD mine, we were told that the mine is 90% owned by IAMGOLD and 10% owned by the Government of Burkina Faso, so when we're talking about capacity-building, what I saw that IAMGOLD had done there was nothing short of remarkable.
In order to accommodate the people of the village of Essakane, they purchased property, and the Essakane community participated in that discussion. They have built a whole village. The most important thing I saw that they had done was to build slab-on-grade foundations for the residents to have their homes built on. That meant they were no longer confined to spending much of their day rehabilitating their houses; they had time for more productive activities.
We learned that there are now some 1,800 contract workers. Priority is given to local hires. Over 1,000 young people have been trained in areas such as construction, carpentry, welding, and plumbing. Mr. St-Pierre, who gave us the tour of the mine, pointed out that as a result of the demand for skilled workers in the mining industries, salaries for them are higher than the national average. Whereas the average salary in Burkina Faso is $1,200, workers at the mine are paid between $4,000 and $30,000, depending on their trade. They're giving literacy programs. We saw the hospital or clinic and the skills training facility they've built.
In building public-private partnerships with these corporations, first of all the country is not only getting tax dollars from the corporation itself but is now able to get tax dollars from the individual workers who are now contributing to their country.
I saw some remarkable things in Burkina Faso. It gives me great hope for that country and for their process in becoming an independent, self-reliant country. They're still looking for CIDA involvement; I know that. I think Canadians would relish the opportunity to help with that capacity-building, because we see real results happening there.
Do you have any comment on that?