This is Betty, she’s a Fairtrade gold miner

Betty – mother, wife, and Ugandan small-scale gold miner. And yesterday she told me how her life has changed for the better over the past few months, thanks to wonderful piece of kit called a Gold Kacha.

Betty’s role within the gold mining process was to do the sluicing of the sand, to try and extract the gold. Hours spent bent over, swilling the sand over and over, little by little, hoping to find some gold at the end of the process.

It would take 8+ hours to sluice 4 basins of sand, and as a result Betty’s options were either to take the children with her to help speed up the process using the ‘many hands make light work’ principle, or to leave them at home to fend for themselves, get themselves sorted for school, and try and find their own food until Betty would get home tired, late, and with little energy to prepare the single meal of the day.

But now, thanks to the Gold Kacha, which utilizes centrifugal force, looks like a top-loader washing machine, and has carefully designed insides that catch about 95% of the gold, Betty can process the 4 basins in a fraction of the time it used to take her and have spare hours in the day to give to family life

The outcome: Betty gets to spend more time with the family, looking after the house, tending the garden, and providing at least 2 meals per day; the children get to reliably go to school as they aren’t required to help with sluicing, or stay home to care for younger siblings and do household chores; the household income has gone up thanks to the increased percentage of gold extracted from the same amount of sand.

The other massive positive about the Kacha and associated equipment is that the need for using mercury in the extraction process is negated. The miners had not been aware of the dangers of mercury before the Kacha was introduced, and as a result were using it in scarily slapdash ways. So the health of humans, livestock and the environment were being heavily compromised.

But now, thanks to increased awareness about mercury toxicity, and a technology that allows the miners to stop using it, the water sources are cleaner, the livestock are living longer, and the miners are no longer putting themselves, and their families at danger.

All in all, a hugely positive story all round (unless you are a mercury seller I guess, but I have no sympathy for them!). And the Kacha – well no wonder they call it the wonder machine!

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