Project December 20, 2023

The Hidden Toll of Opencast Mining



Contaminated water sources and open and abandoned caves dot most of the mineral-rich areas where a brazen search for precious metals by miners is taking place.

In Burundi, deaths have been recorded after accidents related to these artisanal mining operations. Miners are increasingly turning to dangerous substances like mercury for processing gold without regard for the health implications. In parts of Odupi in Terego and Yumbe districts in the West Nile, miners use pickaxes or mattocks, hand hoes, and hammers to pound into the ground to extract minerals.

Opencast mining deprives these areas of vegetation cover and contributes to the severe effects of climate change and health and social upheavel. Yet little is being done by artisanal miners, companies involved in mineral exploration, and the government to address the situation.

This multimedia journalism project is aimed at investigating the consequences of reckless surface mining on biodiversity and human health in and around new and old minefields in Mabayi and Murwi in Cibitoke province in Burundi, and Odupi mines in West Nile in Uganda.

Investigations also assess and examine environmental and health safety nets and why they are ignored with impunity.