Friday 26 December 2014

Panning for gold in western Ivory Coast

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A prospector pans for gold at a new gold mine found in a cocoa farm near the town of Bouafle in western Ivory Coast March 18, 2014. With high prices for the precious metal fuelling a gold rush in Ivory Coast and Ghana, diggers are scurrying to cash in. But the drain on the labour market and the harm done to cocoa plantations could endanger cocoa production in the two nations, which account for 60 percent of global supply. Picture taken March 18, 2014. To match Insight COCOA-GOLD/WESTAFRICA    REUTERS/Luc Gnago (IVORY COAST - Tags: AGRICULTURE BUSINESS COMMODITIES EMPLOYMENT)
A prospector pans for gold. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
A prospector goes down a hole as he pans for gold at a new gold mine found in a cocoa farm near the town of Bouafle in western Ivory Coast. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
With high prices for the precious metal fuelling a gold rush in Ivory Coast and Ghana, diggers are scurrying to cash in. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
But the drain on the labour market and the harm done to cocoa plantations could endanger cocoa production in the two nations, which account for 60 percent of global supply. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Panning for gold. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
The cocoa-producing regions at risk are in Ghana's top cocoa-producing belt. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Despite its global dominance, the long-term prospects for West Africa's cocoa sector are surprisingly bleak. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
The average age of growers in Ivory Coast is around 50, just four years shy of the average life expectancy of an Ivorian man. Reuters/Luc Gnago
With cocoa promising a life of back-breaking toil and grinding rural poverty, many are looking for a way out. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Five years ago, as world spot gold prices began an unprecedented rally to around $1,900 an ounce in late 2011, poor cocoa farmers woke up to the possibility that salvation lay beneath their feet. Reuters/Luc Gnago
While prices are now back around $1,300/oz, that is still three times higher than they were a decade ago. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
The main problem for cocoa farmers now is a lack of labour Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Farmers are searching in vain for workers to harvest the pods on his plantation and dry the beans Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Eight months ago, a local farmer discovered a gold vein near the town of Zahibo, west of Ivory Coast's main cocoa hub of Daloa. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Within weeks, diggers from all over the country and neighbouring Burkina Faso began flooding in by the busload. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago
Often prospecting at night and without the permission of landowners, gold prospectors' open-trench mines rip giant gashes through plantations.. Photo: Reuters/Luc Gnago

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