In a small village in Guinea’s Siguiri district, some 700km northeast of the capital Conakry, miners risk their lives daily to mine gold and diamonds from the earth. The miners dig deep into the mud, despite the ever present threat of landslides.
Known as the “land of gold”, Siguiri sits atop a vast reserve of precious minerals, and attracts miners of all ages from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso who hope to strike it rich. The work, however, is fraught with risks; miners squeeze down one-man shafts to reach the ore, and when each returns to the surface, the group gives thanks.
At least five landslides in recent months have killed dozens of workers, with some bodies still missing. While small-scale artisanal mining is legal in Guinea, the government has been unable to ensure the safety of workers. Yet in a resource-rich country where most people live in poverty, and where gold drives the economy, the miners are willing to accept that risk.