A gas explosion killed as many as 25 people in an illegal gold mine in eastern Guinea, area that holds some of the West African country’s largest gold reserves.
A police source confirmed to Reuters that 14 bodies have already been recovered, but added the walls of the mine were “too narrow,” which makes it “impossible to survive this kind of accident.”
While artisanal mining in mineral-rich Guinea is not illegal, it is extremely dangerous. In July four people were killed in a similar incident.
Other than gold, artisanal miners tend to look for diamonds in the country, which is an important source of them. In 2011, it put out 300,000 carats valued at about $30 million, and industrial production is in the development phase. As well, the country hosts several kimberlite deposits.
However, due to regulatory deficiencies, data gaps, limited technical capacity and uneven enforcement in small-scale mining, the country is a thoroughfare for conflict diamonds to enter the international market.
Guinea is also one of the world’s main exporters of bauxite and holds vast untapped iron ore reserves that have lured large global miners, such as Rio Tinto and Chinalco.