Searching for gold in Ethiopia

This photo essay focuses on the community of Dima, a village in West central of Ethiopia.
While Dima has abundant sources of gold, industrialization isn’t possible due to it being scattered over a large area in small deposits. This means that although it doesn’t provide a beneficial source to large companies, it does attract a large numbers of aspiring prospectors who have carte blanche to try their luck at making a living by extracting the gold themselves.
These ‘miners’ generally prefer to work at night when, equipped with whatever they can get their hands on, they begin digging wherever they choose.
There is little method to their work other than luck leading to random hauls of anything between a measly 1g and 10g per day’s work.

Gold mining has been practiced in Ethiopia for centuries. The same miners are digging long tunnels in the ground, no modern machinery, with pick and shovel they spend their days full of sweat and sacrifice, and sometimes go weeks without finding gold.

01 Sacrifice versus hope b

The miners are constantly watched by the leader of the mines. He checks that there are no fights between miners and noone hides gold in their pockets.

02 The Leader b

They descend into the mines with a flashlight on their heads as if it were a frontal light, and with a pan they extract sand and bring it to the surface to be analyzed with the hope of finding a flake of gold.

03 Non Stop b

The earth is panned by hand by dipping the pan in the water, then shaking it carefully. As gold is denser than the sand, it sits in the bottom and is easier to see.

04 The dream of a better tomorrow b

Hope is the last thing they lose. Whenever a miner immerses the pan in water there is an air of anticipations as they are curious to see if there is a sparkling flake at the bottom of the pan.

05 Expectation b

At the end of the day, after an intense day of “work”, they have to go to the market purchase sale to sell the golf found in the mine.

06 The reward b

The most anticipated moment of all… How much money will I receive for the gold found? There is no set price, each day ranges, so you have to negotiate the price, reach an agreement, and be aware of possible scams and frauds by the buyers.

07 Value for money b

The lucky ones receive a handful of birrs (oficial Ethiopian currency) in Exchange for the gold founded. Regardless of their effort, their work and they sacrifice, of course.

08 For a handful of birrs b

To determinate the richness of the gold they use a little ladle, similar a tea spoon. Ancient utensils are still used.

09 This is Ethiopia b

This is Ethiopia, a country located in one of the poorest regions of the world, and it seems that time has not passed for its inhabitants.

Photos ©laiasudria

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