Confessions of a Dangerous Mine

Illegal gold mining in Ghana shafts locals' health and the environment


| June 2003


At I Trust My Legs, an illegal mining camp along a gray stream in the West African nation of Ghana, trespassers have bored vertical shafts deep into the ground. On a recent morning, Maxwell Adzoka strapped a lamp to his head, pressed his bare back and shoeless feet against the slick clay walls of one of these shafts, and climbed down, his yellow bulb disappearing into the darkness. When he reemerged, he was bearing thick stones rippled with gold, enough to buy meat, palm wine, and clothes for his eight children. It was a lucky day for Adzoka, and not only because of his find: He could just as easily have died from a collapsed tunnel, mercury poisoning, or a rifle shot.

Across Africa, in countries with rich mineral reserves and barren economies, thousands of the unemployed dig for fortunes on land controlled by large mining companies. Operating illegally and unregulated, these miners use primitive extraction techniques not seen in the United States since the California gold rush a century ago. With dynamite, pickaxes, mercury, and the strength of their arms, they earn a living at great threat to their health and environment.
















Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!




Facebook Instagram Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265