Gold digging takes environmental toll
  • | dtinews.vn | May 10, 2010 10:16 PM

As dry season approaches, many rivers in the mountainous district of A Luoi (Thua Thien - Hue) have dried up, leaving their river bed exposed. Crowds of locals have gathered to pan for gold in these rivers.

Underneath the A Bridge, located on Highway No.49 from Hue to A Luoi, dozens of people continuously pan for gold making the area look as if it were a construction site.

A normal day for these gold panners begins from dusk until dawn. When asked, "Why don't you till your fields at home, instead of spending your time here panning for gold?", Ho Thi Hong, of Pa Co ethnic minoriy descent from Hamlet No.5 said, "We have a drought this year. The soil is too dry to be tilled. If we don't find gold, we'll have nothing to eat."

On the other side, a group of people seemed no less busy digging and sifting through rocks and sand trying to find bits of gold.

Wiping sweat on his dark weathered face, Ho Van Lam said, "If I start panning for gold at 5 o'clock in the morning, I could find some small bits of gold that are worth about VND 20,000 (USD 1), enough to buy some food. But I don't always have the luck. Some days I find nothing."

The recent rumour that someone had found gold worth VND 200,000 (USD 10), has attracted an even higher number of people wading through the A A River's (a branch of Bo River) water, desperately trying their luck.

It was reported that after the typhoon No.9 last year, many locals gave up their hopes for farming and went in search of gold instead with a belief that gold would change their life. However, no gold was found and people started to lose their interest in finding gold.

Gold panning has directly left a significant and negative impact on the ecological environment of the rivers. Dozens of deep holes have been formed in these riverbeds and the number continues to rise as people are still panning hard for gold. Those holes along with the sharp and slippery rocks of the rivers could cause a lot of potential threats. Besides, if this gold searching frenzy continues, the flow of the river could be seriously affected and may cause heavy floods when the rainy season approaches.

Below are a few pictures that we were able to capture of the uncontrolled gold panning in the area of A A River, A Luoi District, Thua Thien - Hue.

Sifting through rocks and sand to find gold in A A River (a branch of Bo River).

Sand at the river bed was dug up in search of gold.

Where the sand had been dug up, the mud is thickened.

Gold is searched for in these basins full of soil and sand.

The process of digging forms deep and dangerous gorges.

Tools used for the gold search.

Sand is being panned and sifted in the middle of the river.

"No gold is to be found, but sand grits.”

Deep and dangerous gorges like this were formed as a result.

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