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Among the "orpailleurs", the goldminers of the Kédougou region | by 10b travelling / Carsten ten Brink
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Among the "orpailleurs", the goldminers of the Kédougou region

The Kédougou region, in the south-east of Senegal, has important deposits of gold. Mining is both corporate and community driven and I visited one mining area, run by the Tomboronkoto community. HIstorically artisanal mining dominated but Senegal changed its legal/regulatory system early in this millenium to encourage international investment. Next to the entry of corporate miners this seems to have encouraged a far more active artisanal activity, with miners coming from neighbouring countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea etc) and remitting cash back to their homelands. In fact most of the artisanal miners I spoke to were not Senegalese but were there with the permission of the village.

 

There are reports that this growth in mining, while providing valuable cash for the local area, has had some disadvantages: there have been bloody fights between miners (although other reports say there is now an operating framework that has reduced some of the friction), an increase in prostitution and STIs and, perhaps most importantly for the local community, the environmental impacts of mercury usage, reduced availability of clean water and a destruction of agricultural land.

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Taken on December 26, 2013