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Gabon seeks riches in artisanal gold mining

Gabon seeks riches in artisanal gold mining


The Belinga mountains in Gabon, believed to hold one of the biggest iron ore deposits in the world, is also rich in gold.

Men with shovels can always be seen panning for gold in this part of the country but at the end of the day, they say production is not very good.

Only nine or ten grams of the mineral are found on good days.

With this small production, Gabon’s government now wants to take full control of the activity.

The artisanal gold miners are now required to sell the little gold they find to the state.

The gold panners are already facing stiff competition from Chinese companies who were entrusted by the government with the exploitation of the mineral since 2008.

A few months ago, the mining firm in the country SEM, signed a partnership deal with Myanning, a Chinese company to explore the area.

In 2014, the government had already launched a system for purchasing and collecting their small-size production.

But according to the local gold panners, they are the losers in the deal.

“Before we got around 20,000 CFA francs per gram but now since they (the government officials) came, it’s fallen to 17,000,” said Simon Pierre Matamaya, a chief of one of the camps in the village.

Gold mining in Gabon began in the 1940s during the French colonial era and panning today takes place at the sites.

Gabon is home to a wealth of mineral riches including manganese, iron, uranium and diamonds that have yet to be exploited, and attracting more Chinese companies.

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