Artisanal gold mining started to boom in Mauritania in 2016 following rumors of the discovery of two kilograms of gold in Tijrit (in the Inchiri region), 160 kilometers northwest of Nouakchott. In 2019, the estimated number of artisanal miners approached twenty-two thousand people.

Tasiast, 2016, © Moctar Ould El Hacen
The search for gold quickly moved 
from surface exploration to the 
Pits that can reach between 20 to 
40 meters in depth are often executed 
under the guidance of Sudanese and 
Malian migrants
Trenches in the Tasiast area of 
northwestern Mauritania, established 
by explorers operating in the vicinity 
of an official concession
Mercury and cyanide are extensively used in the 
processing stage, and miners remain largely 
unaware of the health hazards they face
Various businesses, such as food and grocery 
stalls, cater to artisanal miners
4X4 pick-up trucks are instrumental in the 
exploration of the Saharan hinterlands
In the town of Zouerate, piles of extracted
rock became an element of the town’s landscape
Raw materials brought from the Saharan 
hinterland for processing 
Most miners face deplorable living conditions 
in their quest for gold
Gold is found! (often in very small quantities)
© Moustapha Taleb Heidi for CAPSAHARA, 2020