Zimbabwe’s gold rush: boom in illegal mining draws hundreds of thousands to Africa’s Klondike

Still glistening in the residue of toxic mercury solution, the metallic flake looks more like a silvery fish scale than a precious metal. 

But for Emmanuel Sithole, the toe-nail sized scrap of gold in the palm of his hand is a modest contribution to his monthly income. 

“That’s about $15 right there. Not much – it’s always a matter of luck, but you should be able to get that from a shovel full of earth,” he explains.  

Weary, covered in dust, and in his mid-twenties, Mr Sithole is a typical "makorokoza" – one of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans driven by a catastrophic economic crisis to literally scraping a living out of the country’s dark ochre landscape.

Zimbabweans have mined gold since…

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