Sunday 16 June 2024

Three killed in collapse at gold mine in Niger State, Nigeria.

Three people have been killed in a collapse at a gold mine in the Paikoro Local Government Area of Niger State, Nigeria, on Thursday, 13 June 2024. The mine is understood to have been an illegal (or at least informal) pit dug by local villagers, which collapsed when the surrounding sediments became soft following the onset of the seasonal rains. Details of the deceased are not known, but informal mines in the area are predominantly worked by women and children.

An informal mine in the  Paikoro Local Government Area of Niger State, Nigeria, where a sediment collapse killed three people on Thursday 13 June 2024. AIT Live.

The incident comes a week after another mine collapse in Niger State, in which 20 people were trapped underground in a collapse at a larger pit mine run by African Minerals and Logistics Limited at Galadima Kogo in the Shiroro Local Government Area on Monday 3 June. Seven of the miners were subsequently rescued, but the rest are now feared to have perished. This collapse was also triggered by sediments being softened by rain.

Rescue workers at the scene of a mine collapse at Galadima Kogo in the Shiroro Local Government Area on Monday 3 June 2024. Ministry of Solid Minerals Development.

West Africa has a distinct two season climatic cycle, with a cool dry season during the northern winter when prevalent winds blow from the Sahara to the northeast, and a warm rainy season during the northern summer when prevalent winds blow from the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. These warm winds from the Atlantic are laden with moisture, which can be lost rapidly when the air encounters cooler conditions, such as when it is pushed up to higher altitudes by the Jos Plateau of central Nigeria and Shebshi Mountains on the border with Cameroon.

Rainfall and prevalent winds during the West African dry and rainy seasons. Encyclopaedia Britanica.

Informal artisanal mining is common in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria, which like may other countries has granted concessions to mining companies in areas where small-scale artisanal mining has traditionally helped to supplement the incomes of subsistence farmers. However, little of the money from such projects tends to reach local communities, which often leads to ill feeling and attempts to continue mining clandestinely, often at night or under other unfavourable conditions, which can put the miners at greater risk.

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