Gold is money, everything else is credit, he once said the banker JP Morgan.
Gold is a source of income for both producers and consumers.
Artisanal and small-scale mining is estimated to supply 13 percent of the world’s gold production per annum, or about 330 tonnes of average annual mining production in recent years. From this, the current value of annual artisanal and smallscale gold production in 2010,11 is worth around US 10.5 billion. Working on the highly conservative basis that artisanal and small-scale mining makes up 8 percent of national gold production
Mali strategic position in medieval times close to both the prosperous sites for the extraction of gold and salt and the main trade routes through the Sahara gave commodities like gold, salt, and slaves a crucial role in the economy of the ancient Mali kingdom.
In the last decade Mali has experienced a gold boom. Today Mali is Africas third largest producer of gold and has one of the world’s most golddependent economies. Gold production grew to 50 metric tons last year from 46 tons the year before, A government plan to support smaller companies to start producing will push output to 100 tons within two or three years.
There are over 350 artisanal mining sites across Western and Southern Mali; their precise number is unknown even to the government.
Estimates put the number of artisanal gold miners in Mali between 100,000 and
200,000. Around 20 percent of artisanal gold miners are children. About 20 000 children are working in illegal mines in Mali. These children literally risk life and limb, said Human Rights Watch. They carry loads heavier than their own weight, climb into unstable shafts, and touch and inhale mercury, one of the most toxic substances on earth.
Artisanal gold miners in Mali and all over the world use mercury to extract gold from ore, because it is inexpensive and easy to use. Artisanal miners are exposed to mercury through the inhalation of vapors that develop when the amalgam is smelted. Researchers have described mercury intoxication an invisible epidemic.