Nigeria gold rush: toxic quarry


How traditional farming methods have been abandoned in the rush for gold in Nigeria's Zamfara state

In recent years a mini gold rush has swept through remote parts of Zamfara state, in the arid Sahel region just south of the Sahara, encouraging entire communities to abandon their traditional farming and herding activities. Crushed ore from quarries was typically transported in sacks back to villagers' homes, where the men and women ground it down by hand to search for tiny pieces of gold as their children played at their feet. Returns from selling the gold to traders were modest, but better than from farming, and the work, illegal but tolerated by the authorities, was easier.

But late last year various villages began sourcing ore from a new deposit that also contained very high levels of lead. During grinding, lead particles were released into the air and dust in and around people's homes.

Contaminated waste material, also heavy in lead, was disposed of haphazardly nearby, contaminating soil and water sources.

arid : wysuszony

deposit : złoże

dispose of (something) : pozbywać się (czegoś)

grind (ground, ground) : miażdżyć

haphazardly : niedbale, przypadkowo

ore : ruda

quarry : kamieniołom

remote : odległy

sweep (swept, swept) through : szerzyć się

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