THE GALAMSEY

Globally, an estimated 20 million people engage in artisanal mining, with nearly one-quarter of the world’s gold output originating from small-scale mines.  In Ghana, artisanal miners are often referred to as “galamsey,” derived from the English phrase “gather them and sell.”  Most of these roughly one million independent miners operate illegally along the fringes of mining company lands where gold deposits are known.  Despite the backbreaking work and dangerous conditions, the average miner can earn more than the national average, so mining is often viewed as attractive employment. Overall, mining is a huge part of foreign exports in Ghana, contributing nearly forty percent of the country’s export revenue.  Even though most work illegally in the shadows with constant threat of arrest, the galamsey continue to grow.

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