Surge in gold prices brings no change in fortune for Madagascar's miners

A drumming sound reverberates across the bridge and over the valley: the gold panners are hard at work.

Dotted along the edges of a river bed are hundreds of people, rhythmically banging wooden poles into the red earth. They are gold miners “sampling” the dry soil for the precious metal. Crouched alongside them are other workers, carefully panning piles of earth through homemade metal sieves.

There are an estimated 15,000 gold panners in the country, producing 3-4 tonnes of gold annually. These artisanal miners only became a recognised part of the industry in 2006 after the introduction of a new mining code designed to improve standards.

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