FROM THE FIELD: West Africa’s wishful gold diggers

IOM/Alexander Bee Gold-mining in West Africa is often carried out by hand.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The mining of gold in unregulated and often hand-dug pits in West Africa, can be a deadly occupation, but one which many impoverished people in the region are pushed into by necessity, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

An artisanal miner holds a small nugget of gold dug in Sikasso in Mali. IOM/Anna Pujol-Mazzini

Mali is Africa’s third biggest exporter of gold and a third of the country’s total production is estimated to come from artisanal mining in which over one million people are employed.

Many are farmers who have migrated from neighbouring countries in the hope of supplementing the meagre incomes they earn from what is a seasonal occupation.

But, as demand for artisanal gold increases, so too does the number of people dying in poorly constructed mines.

Read more here about how this precious metal continues to shine for some of West Africa’s poorest.

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