‘It’s never enough’: the Senegal goldminers surviving from one nugget to the next

Thousands are lured to the Kédougou region by dreams of riches hidden underground. Fortunes rarely materialise, but still the pickaxes fall, night and day

  • Photographs by Andy Hall for the Observer

On a stopover in Mali on his way to Libya, Bakary Jammeh abandoned plans to board a boat to Italy. He had a brother there, but Jammeh became convinced he should put their reunion on hold and turn back in search of gold.

Jammeh had met a Senegalese man with a pocket full of cash and 15 grams of gold. The man was from Kédougou in southeastern Senegal, where villages with long traditions of panning for gold are quietly transforming into sprawling mining towns.

Top: Bantako, in south-east Senegal. Centre left: A busy street in Bantako, where the population has grown as people come to look for gold. Centre right: Miners on their way to work in the artisanal gold mining camps around the town. Bottom: Miners assemble around the makeshift buildings of the camp before going to work

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