Nelly Bassily | June 13, 2011
Much of the small-scale gold mining in West Africa is informal, artisanal and seasonal. Children are often used as labour. It is usually physically demanding and can be hazardous, with risk of exposure to mercury, for example. Mining is generally very destructive to the environment, and can have other negative effects on the local people and economy, as in this week’s story.
For more information, see:
-Child labour in gold mining
-Small-scale mining in Burkina Faso, by Djibril Gueye (research report from 2002)
Here are some stories from Farm Radio Weekly on mining:
Ghana: Farmers say gold mine would disrupt their livelihoods (FRW 17, April 2008).
Sierra Leone: Former diamond miners seek new treasures from the earth (FRW 60, March, 2009).
Does small-scale mining affect a region or community near you? If so, you may want to produce a program examining the issues involved. Some small mines are unregistered and/or illegal, so be aware that miners might not be welcoming to visitors, or willing to talk to journalists. But if they are, ask them their motivation for the work, whether they are local, and how long they have been mining. Does the mine affect local communities in any way? How? Try to talk to community members and leaders. You may also want to contact the local government to check on the legality of operations.