DIMA GOLD MININING

( By Tefera Alemu)

There is one thing that makes the remote town of Dima, located not far from the city of Gambela, distinct from other parts of the country which are rich in natural resources. Unlike other parts of Ethiopia, the gold resources in Dima cannot be industrialized: the available gold is scattered in a wide area and is relatively in small quanities. Gold mining companies will not therefore venture working in the area as the project will not be cost effective. The second thing that makes Dima different is the fact that the town is not home to one ethnic group but many. In most cases where there is only one ethnic group residing in a specific town they mostly show the tendancy of being over protective of their resources and may lack the willingness to allow outsiders in. Dima belongs to no specific group and therefore is open to everyone.

Even though there isn't enough gold to attract the mining companies in, there is enough to attract individual gold diggers. On the other hand here is no resistance to anyone who wants to try his/her luck as a gold digger. These prospects have attracted many from accross the country to become self employed gold diggers in the little known town of Dima.

Dima is located in the deserts of Gambella with temperatures going above 45 degree celcius. The town looks empty and deserted if a visitor gets there in the afternoon. None of the local dwellers venture to leave their homes in mid day and if they do, it will be to go to an open air bar to have some drinks till the sun sets.

Late at night Dima becomes alive. One would see people flocking from all directions with basic digging tools and torches. Then starts the random digging. Some go into deep underground tunnels that they have dug over the years. Others simply scrap anywhere in search of gold. In Dima, it is all about experience and luck:lucky and you could wind up by digging out tens of grams; unlucky and your day's hard work will only get you no more than 1 gram of 18 karat gold.

With the current price of gold a single gram can be sold for a little less than 100 USD in Ethiopia. This means that what a random gold digger would make in one day is a little more than what one might earn as starting monthly salary as a bachelor degree holder. It is clear therefore that the town of Dima is home to several rich individuals. This is demonstrated in the fact that small bills which are currently in use in Addis Ababa and all parts of Ethiopia( cents coins, 1 and 5 birr bills) are devoid of value in Dima: no shops or service provider there will accept such bills.