Monday, 10 October 2011

Risky Gold Mining in Senegal

Calcite Deposits with some evidence
of minor gold veins (Chile)
The BBC recently produced a video report of 'risky gold mining' in Senegal, West Africa. The video highlight how individuals are coming from Senegal, and across the border from Mali to hunt for and mine gold. The report highlights the lack of all supervision, regulation and safety procedures - with miners at risk of serious injury or even death. It also highlights how mercury, used in the gold mining process, is also regularly added to the local stream - which is also their drinking water supply. This poses a further risk of serious illness to the miners, and other users of this water. As the community of miners expands there is also the risk of disease from poor sanitation practice. 

Small scale artisanal mining is widespread in many developing countries - providing an important source of income for many communities. However in many cases it is done in very poor conditions, and can be illegal. The risk of serious injury or diseases (such as highlighted above) can be significant. There are programmes working with some artisanal miners, to help protect them and improve their working conditions. For example,  DFID and the World Bank are involved in a "Collaborative group on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (CASM)" that work to reduce poverty through improving the environmental, social and economic performance of artisinal and small scale mining in developing countries.