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[G]old in Burkina has become the most exported product in the country overtaking cotton.
In the last year 11 thousand tons of gold have been extracted in Burkina Faso a number which has more than doubled.
These results are obtained due to reforms that have been created to fully exploit the capacity of the workers and reduce the costs of the gold extraction. Moreover this trend benefits from the extraordinary gold prices in the stock exchange.
Besides the optimal industrial results obtained in the auriferous mines of the Burkina Faso, there have been recorded dreadful security and general labour conditions that workers of many auriferous mines must stand every day. These conditions have recently provoked violent disorders and protests from miners who are exasperated by the poor conditions and repeated incidents on the working site. In fact, gold seekers employ rudimental working instruments without any security system.
Men crawl through 80 meters deep tunnels. In the case of landslides, workers are supported by earth bags and iron slabs.
Women and children are in charge of crushing stones that create a dust that is highly harmful for their health. Gold seekers are obliged to sell processed gold to society, which has the authorisation to exploit it. The Comptoir burkinabé des métaux précieux (Cbmp), a governmental organ that regulates gold prices was shut down in 2005 by a Bretton Woods injunction.
The gold market is now liberalized, so the merchants are the ones who impose their own prices.
(Luca Catalano Gonzaga | Gold fever, PRIVATE 53 – Hope, pages 38-43)