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City of Gold

Thierry Gouegnon/TwentyTen

Welkom cité de l'Or

Située au sud de Johannesbourg, Welkom est une ville de la province de Free State en Afrique du Sud. En 2001, elle comptait 408 173 habitants, avec un sous-sol très riche en mineraux, tels que, l’or, l’uranium et autres. L’exploitation de l’or reste l’activité la plus pratiquée dans cette région, d’où la présence de plusieurs centaines de mineurs illégaux qui sont en majorité des ressortissants étrangers venus du Zimbabwe voisin. Bienvenue donc dans leur univers!

City of Gold

Thierry Gouegnon/Twenty Ten

Location: Welkom, South Africa

The City of Gold is located south of Johannesburg in the Free State. It got its name from the rich mineral deposits found in the area including uranium and gold.

Illegal miners flock to the area, drawn by its promise of mineral wealth and prosperity. In 2001, the town of Welkom had more than 400,000 inhabitants, many of whom were illegal miners in search of a better life.

The economic crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe meant that hundreds of Zimbabweans crossed the border looking for greener pastures. A lot of them ended up in Welkom where they scour abandoned gold mines for whatever they can find.

Avoiding the watchful eye of security guards, even youths from the area find gaps in the barbed wire fences of abandoned mines. They sieve the sand in the hope of discovering nuggets of gold that they can sell for cash.

One only has to look at the smiles of the locals here to see how sought after the mineral is. Many...

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