Villagers in Nigeria strike gold

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ZAMFARA STATE, Nigeria — It’s not exactly your classic California gold rush. But it might end the same way — enriching a precious few, and leaving the rest penniless.

In this remote region of northern Nigeria, where camels wander ? through the forests and farms, small-scale gold miners are struggling against confusing government regulations and captivated corporations seeking the precious metal.

Hassan Mousa, a miner and father of seven, lives miles from then nearest paved roads, electricity or cellphone service. Before he started mining, he said, his family was barely surviving.

From Mine to Market
Reporting by Alan Katz. Designed by David Yanofsky.
Here's how gold from the Nigerian state Zamfara reaches the worldwide market.

Ore is collected from mines near Sunke.
The ore is bagged and brought by motorcycle to villages like Dareta or Sunke, where villagers grind the ore and then wash the mix over a ridged board. Villagers who do the processing themselves then use mercury to extract the gold.
The result is then sold to gold traders in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara, where remaining dirt and impurities are separated.
The gold is driven to the Benin border and turned over to dealers from the port city of Cotonou.
The dealers then sell this gold to wholesalers from Europe and the Middle East, who in turn introduce that gold to the worldwide market.