According to women artisanal gold miners Josephine Aguttu and Rosemary Ongang’o, sluicing (a part of their daily work) is a messy, back breaking, labour intensive and time-consuming job! And these pictures show why.
The next picture shows women miners standing next to sluice trough with the blanket. ‘Sluicing’ entails washing the powder through a grill using water from a bucket, and the resulting slurry pours down an inclined trough. At the base of the trough, a blanket is placed which traps the heavier gold particles, extracting them from the slurry as it flows into a catchment pond below the trough.
The slurry settles in the pond, with the muddy water recycled for use at the top of the trough. Once all the powder has been washed through, the blanket is lifted from the trough and washed into a basin, the product is now called a concentrate which contains particles of gold, rock and other minerals.
In the past, Appropriate Process Technologies (APT), in Johannesburg, South Africa, developed a mechanised piece of equipment which replaces manual sluicing concentrator called the GoldKacha (GK). Tom Wamalwa in Uganda said ‘the GoldKacha has simplified the washing of gold, you can wash within one hour a vehicle load. It would take one hour to wash a basin but now a basin takes a minute!’ Now, in recent weeks, APT have developed a new smaller version of their GoldKacha, partly due to pressure from Foundation for Mining (F4M) for the past few years. Along with this picture, a partner there said: ‘Hi Terry. You wanted us to make a miniGoldKacha so we did. This is the first one.’
F4M has acquired only the second one to be manufactured which is now undergoing testing and trials in a workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, prior to being taken on a tour of artisanal mining sites that are dotted around the capital city. The miniGK can again significantly improve the lot of women involved in the activity of re-treating dumps within artisanal gold mining.
F4M is pleased to be a part of this ongoing initiative for artisanal gold mining, where the incentive to change starts with the right equipment. More effective gold recovery; more efficient labour saving; cheap; robust; easy to operate and maintain; reduced mercury usage. For the miners, both men and women, it’s about a service which improves their livelihoods and their quality of life.