Mandiana : gold is not “shining” for female gold panners

Small-scale or artisanal gold mining is commonly regarded as a male-dominated industry in the mining areas of the Mandiana prefecture. Despite precarious working conditions, gold is no more shining for women. For, they receive meagre revenues.

In the middle of a muddy bassin, Mariame Keita closely watches the content of a small calabash in the hope to make fortune. But, her hopes faded away.

"We suffer a lot. Since this morning, I have not had anything. Before, we used to earn a lot of money with this work, but now we are not making any money. Gold is becoming rare, but we cannot stop searching for it, because this is the only way for us to make money. Our husbands are not providing for us. So if we stay without doing anything, we could not support our families, especially our children, who we support' she explained.

In addition to working at a loss, these gold-panners are exposed to many dangers. Saoked in a muddy water for hours on end, these women knead soft earth without any protection. This can lead to health problems.

"By coming to work at the mine, I was in contact with these contaminated waters. This caused me some health issues. I had had itching all over my lower abdomen. These small wounds were multiplying and getting worse everyday. The doctor told me to leave the mine, because he had found effects of the dirty water on my vulva. But I could not abandon as here is where I can manage to support my family", said Oumou Diakité.

Even if the yellow metal is becoming rare, Kadia Diallo hopes to stay long enough to put aside some money to start her own business. "I have been working here for several months, even though I am rarely making money, but I intend to continue working so as to make some money and to start my own business".

In this uncertain adventure, money earned from the sale of some nuggets enables these women to support their families.

"Despite all these difficulties we go through, the little amount of money we make allows us to feed and school our children. Men cannot support our families", said Alamako Konaté.

In addition to the ordeal of these gold panners, gold mining has beaten agricutlure in mining areas in Upper Guinea. It fascinates and attracts those with a penchant for dazzling wealth, but the consequences are of thisactivity are alarming.

From Mandiana, by SK Camara 

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