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ACCRA, GHANA – On a shaded patio off a large pink and yellow building in central Accra, Kweku Boohene, a Ghanaian goldsmith with a stubbly grey beard, is watching the glowing coals of his makeshift smelter turn to white ash.
A colleague has just melted down a bit of gold, poured it into an ingot mould and returned inside to a cluttered workshop where five of them usually shape the precious metal into rings and chains with hammers and rolling mills. But for now, there is only one person working. As Mr. Boohene stands there in sandals and a loose-fitting green shirt, two others lounge in patio chairs.
“I used to make 10 rings a day, but now it’s not even one,” said Mr. Boohene, a 35-year veteran in the jewellery business.
In Ghana, Africa’s second-largest gold producer, the yellow metal is big business: Gold currently accounts for about 40 per cent of export earnings. As global gold prices have plummeted – 26 per cent in the first half of 2013 alone – the small-scale miners who supply this workshop have stopped coming by to sell the gold dust and tiny nuggets dug out of Ghana’s red earth. Continue Reading →