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Chapter Member visits West Africa


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Teranga Gold Corporation operates an open pit mine in Sabodala, Senegal. Located in West Africa, it lies off the southwest fringe of the Sahara desert.

Local villages still use donkeys and carts. Supplies for the mine come by truck from Dakar. It is a 15 hour trip, mostly over dirt roads.
Mine managers are expatriates from: England, France, United States, South Africa and Canada. A typical roster involves working for eight weeks followed by a four-week break. I was there to provide training to the indigenous geologist and mine engineers. They work a roster of three weeks on, one week off. My students were attentive and courteous. In spite of language differences (their first language is French), training went well. If my impressions of Senegalese culture were representative, I would say they are goodhearted and not prone to cynicism.
Late March temperatures hovered around 110° for daily highs. Temperatures moderate during the monsoon which prevails during June, July August. Mine planners make sure that sumps and upper bench loading locations are ready for the monsoons. Locals seem to handle the hot weather with ease. I saw joggers wearing stocking caps out in hundred degree temperatures in full sun. Yellow fever immunizations are required to enter the country and malaria is a problem during the wet season.
English is spoken at the mine even though French (Senegal was a French colony) is the official language. The camp has its own airstrip and the twins Cessna charter takes an hour and a half from Dakar. Facilities are up to Western standards. Hawks, lizards and baboons made up the visible wildlife. Baboons numbered in the hundreds. I heard reports of small monkeys, warthogs and crocodiles in the Clearwater basin.