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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
In pictures: Ghana's Lethal Gold Rush

Gold bars

Ghana is Africa's second largest gold producer. International companies have been investing heavily in new reserves, bringing both economic benefits and environmental problems.

A woman collects water in a contaminated river

Joanna Manu collects drinking water from the Aprepra River in Western Ghana which has twice been contaminated with cyanide from the local Golden Star gold mine.

A bowl of vegetables in polluted water

After the river was polluted, the mining company dug a well for the village. But the water is unfit to drink because of the high concentration of iron.

A photograph showing people picking up fish that have died from polluted river water

This photograph was shown to File on 4's Angus Stickler. It shows how the fish died when the river was contaminated by cyanide two years ago. Some of the villagers still ate the fish.

An open cast mine

Several hundred kilometres away, a huge open cast mine operated by a North American company employs about 600 people.

A camp where gold is being mined illegally

Near to the huge commercial mine, a camp has sprung up where gold is being mined illegally.

Anglus Stickler is shown an entrance to a 200 feet deep mine shaft

Workers show File on 4 reporter Angus Stickler the entrance to a 200ft (61m) deep shaft they have dug by hand to mine gold ore illegally.

A boy holding a bag of ore

A pump boy holds a bag of ore he has just hauled up. He is paid $1 (0.55) a day to collect water that builds up at the bottom of the shaft and receives a share of the mine's profits.

Gold ore powder

Gold ore from the illegal mines is then ground into powder and washed by hand.

Gold being "panned"

It is then "panned" using mercury and water in a dangerous process. It forms a paste which is then burnt over a charcoal fire giving off poisonous fumes, risking the miners' lives.

A gold trader

This man buys gold paste, turns it into pure gold nuggets and sells it to the government. File on 4 explores the dark side of Ghana's gold mines, 18 July 2006, at 2000 BST on Radio 4.




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