In 2018, The Gambian government issued a mining license to Gambia Angola China (GACH) Mining Company to mine black sand, which has high concentrations of zircon, silica, and quartz, in Sanyang village, Kombo South. GACH allegedly also carries out undisclosed black sand mining in nearby villages Batokunku and Kitty. The company has a controversial history, as it also imports guns into the country with support from the Police Force despite firearms being severely restricted . Sand mining itself is also controversial in The Gambia owing to a history of governmental impunity for resource exploitation under the formal dictatorial regime of ex-president Jammeh . Killings took place at Faraba Banta. More about The Gambia’s overall history of sand mining is available at: https://ejatlas.org/conflict/carnegie-zircon-mining-the-gambia
GACH’s mining projects encroach upon and sometimes demolish subsistence gardens and rice farms without local consent, especially affecting women, whose families are often entirely dependent on their subsistence activities. The mining threatens hundreds of women’s gardens, where they have been working for over two decades. The environmental consequences of the mining include destroying the forest cover, disrupted water levels, saltwater intrusion, and more [1, 4]. The land changes as well as mining demolition also damage traditional fences for their land .
Consequently, it has become dangerous for the women to farm and their crops are destroyed owing to wild animals no longer being kept away .
Although the women, with support of local organizations such as Kitty One Organisation for Poverty Alleviation (KOOPA) have been outspoken against the mining, their pleas to the government have gone unheard, as the Brikama Area Council (BAC) continues to deny that there is any mining occurring on their land or that they ever issued the mining license to begin with . In November 2020, Sanyang women filed complaints against GACH for damages to their fields to the Village Development Committee of Sanyang (VDC), asking for financial compensation. As one of the women, Isatou Gibba, explained, “The intrusion of salt water into my rice farm is a result of a water channel created by the company to allow easy transportation of a drilling machine to a different location for mining … What we are only seeking as for now is to be compensated financially by the company because we cannot regain what has already been destroyed by the mining company” . In response, GACH head of operations Kawsu Jatta promised that all the women would be compensated, but this has yet to happen . Moreover, GACH CEO Jawara refuted claims that the mining did any damage to the women’s farmland, calling the claims “baseless,” “unnecessary blame,” and “character assassination” . The VDC also implied that the “women were complaining or trying to tarnish the image of GACH,” denying ever having received the women’s complaints .