„The magnetism between gold and human beings is very high!“ The District Chief Executive in a small town in Ghana tries to explain, why nothing and nobody can to stop the havoc illegal gold mining is causing in his community. „If care is not taken, one day Ghana will be in hell.”
It began around the year 2010 when Chinese mining equipment and knowhow revolutionized gold mining in West Africa. The newly introduced method allows miners to plough riverbeds with unparalleled effectiveness. The result: muddy streams poised with mercury and shores like moonscapes.
In Ghana’s mining regions jobs are scars in other sectors of the economy. Legal gold business controlled by multinational corporations sucks profits out of the country and shrinks away from its responsibility to create alternative livelihoods. Locals don’t have much choice but to join the dirty, illegal business. In Ghanaian pidgin it is called ‘galamsey’, an expression made up of the words ‘gather’ and ‘sell’.
2013 the Ghanaian government declared war on galamsey. In the small mining town Twifu Praso a bloody conflict sparked between local police and galamsey workers. Both sides of the conflict seem to be affected by the powerful magnetism of gold. Mistrust, murder, poisoned rivers – are there any benefits for those who live on top of one of the world’s greatest gold deposits?