Mining in Marudi

21 Feb

So after my foot injury I did end up going back to the Rupununi…against my doctor’s advice. And it was the best time ever. F you, Advice.

I went back to conduct workshops (more on that in another post), but I also got to tour a bit.

A group of us travelled south to Marudi to check out the mines. Gold mines. Bling bling.

To get there from Aishalton (the village closest to Marudi), we travelled by motorcycle through sand, dirt, mud, and puddles. We had to cross several shady-looking bridges too. When I say “bridges” I mean spaced out logs over a gap/hole in the road. No fancy engineered steel beams and such.

But we made it. (Yay!)
So then the question was…

“What should we do?”


“You guys wanna climb a mountain?”
“ummm…sure! why not?”

Casual mountain climbing.

The climb was little steep, slippery, and treacherous. Apologies to the trees and vines that I had to hold on to in order to prevent my imminent injury and/or death. Let’s just say it wasn’t your regular hike.

In all seriousness, it was a great experience. After you got past the physical exhaustion of climbing up raw paths of dirt, mud, and twigs with little to hold on to, you realized that:

  1. You were getting exercise (much needed exercise since most of us were huffing and puffing our way up),
  2. You don’t know shit about mining (but you learned as you climbed, so it was educational); and
  3. You were rewarded by a fantastic view at the top (as all mountains should give to all who climb them!)

The most interesting thing about the hike? We took the opportunity to crawl into some small, dark man-made tunnels which were also home to bats. These tunnels were dug by hand with a hammer and a chisel. No other fancy tools required.

Mine workers would chip out the dirt and carry the dirt out of the tunnels to be brought down the mountain. The dirt would then be sifted and the rocks pounded to sort out the gold (valuable!) from the non-gold (useless!).

These tunnels go deep into the mountain – over 300 ft in some areas. And yes, cave-ins have happened in the past.

Yes, climbing up and down a mountain was intense exercise for me. But imagine doing that while carrying a heavy bag of dirt.

I believe the workers who do this are called “Druggers”.
They’re the guys who fetch the bags from the top of the mountain (where the tunnel mouth is) to the bottom (where it is sifted for gold). No, there are no drugs in the bags in case you were wondering.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this intense physical labour gives you a better workout than P90x or whatever the fad is nowadays.

So man-made tunnels are used to find gold in the mountains. But what about the land surrounding the mountains?

Well, in order to include technology in the mix, huge, noisy, expensive machinery is used.
Excavators are brought in to dig up the land. This makes looking for gold faster and easier.

Unfortunately, it also results in fast and easy damage to the environment.

And this is all done for…



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