January 20th, 2011 | Global Times Gold diggers
Chinese workers dig gold in an African country. Many people from Shanglin county, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, are involved in the gold digging business in Africa. Photos: CFP and Shanglin.net.
Tan Jianhui, who runs a construction equipment business in Shangling county, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has been raking in the cash due to the rich gold supply in Africa. The business owner, however, did not have to travel there to see his business blossom.
Tan, 30, is doing well because thousands of people in his hometown have been going to Ghana, Angola and other African countries to dig for gold.
He benefits because he sells sand pumpers and other equipments people need to find the valuable metal under the earth.
When Chinese workers go to Africa, their bosses will usually ask them to take some gold digging equipment with them, he said.
“Last year, over 1,000 bosses in Shangling bought gold digging equipment from me,” Tan told the Global Times, adding that a set of equipment goes for 3 million yuan ($455,691).
Each of the bosses will take at least 10 workers to Africa and many people in the county are living on the incomes of these gold diggers.
Guangxi-based Nanguo Morning Post reported Tuesday that nearly 6,000 Shangling residents are digging gold in Africa.
The deputy chief of Mingliang township told the newspaper that Shangling people have been digging gold for several decades starting in Mingliang township. In the 1990s, the local government even organized local residents to travel to Heilongjiang Province to find gold.
“Gold digging for Shangling people is a tradition,” Tan said, adding that they started focusing on African countries in 2007.
“Gold digging in Africa is very profitable,” he said.
He said the Chinese bosses could earn enough money to repay loans they took out to buy equipment after just three months, and some companies find 50 kilograms of gold a day.
In an article posted on an online forum, a photo showing a gold digger from Shangling county with a piece of gold in his hand triggered a lot of talk.
An Internet user from Mingliang township wrote on the post that a gold digger could earn 6,000 yuan ($911) each month with a decent cut of the take.
Some workers make between 300,000 ($45,568) and 500,000 yuan ($75,946) after working in Africa for three years, the Internet user said.
The Nanguo Morning Post reported that some Chinese businessmen have given up their previous businesses to become gold diggers.
Get rich quick
A man surnamed Ling, 40, said he closed his business last week, which he operated for many years, and planned to go to Ghana.
Ling said he and his family can live a comfortable life if he sells all his assets, but he wants to make more money in order to give his family more, and pay back workers who have worked for him for a long time.
Ling said he could buy a share in a gold digging company for 100,000 yuan ($15,189), pay for equipment and workers.
The boss will sign employment contracts with the workers for between three months and a year, and the employer usually give wages to the family members of workers, the report said.
The report, quoting an unnamed police officer in Shangling county, said a local resident who lost everything to gambling, is doing well after he started a company that sends workers to Africa.
The report said in Mingliang township alone, there are over 10 sand pump factories.
A local resident surnamed Zhou said one of his relatives can now afford to buying land to build homes and a car after working in Africa digging gold. However, the relative got hooked on gambling afterwards, and lost all his savings.
The deputy township chief, surnamed He, said the job comes with risks.
“Some could invest a large sum of money without finding one piece of gold,” He said.
He added that irrational and blind investments lead to oversupply and huge losses.
Zhang Yuhai, a Shangling native, said she hopes the workers take precautions.
“To be safe is always more important than making money,” Zhang said to the Global Times.
Bai Zhaoyang and Liu Tianjiao contributed to this story
By Pan Yan