• Sadiq Mustapha

Excavating the Earth for Metals—A Photography Exhibition by Sadiq Mustapha

It is believed that artisanal miners often undertake the activity of mining seasonally, mostly during the dry season, these activities include panning for gold in rivers and the development of underground and small-scale processing plants. The miners at the Takalafiya village of Lapai local government of Niger State, Nigeria mine gold from schist rocks throughout the season using underground mining methods to reach the gold-bearing rocks, which are later transported to a processing plant where the rocks are crushed, ground, and washed to recover the metal.

These miners are migrants from the far north-west Zamfara state of Nigeria, where bandits force people out of their homes, take over properties, kidnap for ransom, and rape women. As a result of excavating the earth for metals to put a roof under their heads and a penny in their pockets, these men encounter a number of fatal accidents resulting from land sliding, degradation of the environment, drug abuse, and the use of children for labour.

This work Excavating the Earth for Metals documents the stories of men and children searching for fortune in metal-bearing rocks.

The photo labelled "Excavating the Earth for Metals" shows two men underground digging for gold. While "Gravity" illustrates the process of recovering gold through washing after crushing and grinding of ores. "The Search" shows a man who after panning is looking through the gold recovered, and "Pounding Soil into Money" shows a man grinding ore. "Smoke" shows a minor miner smoking India hemp (cannabis), and "Home" shows the tent where the miners live.

—Sadiq Mustapha

Excavating the Earth for Metals

Digital Photography


Digital Photography

The Search

Digital Photography

Pounding Soil into Money

Digital Photography


Digital Photography


Digital Photography

Abubakar Sadiq Mustapha is a storyteller, a poet, and an art curator. He believes in the power of photography and how it can be used toward mental health. His work has appeared on Ebedi Review, The Song Is, The Nigeria Review, The Shallow Tale Magazine, Libretto Magazine, Literandra, and elsewhere. He is a fellow of the Bada Murya fellowship.