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NEW GOLD RUSH SEEN FOR SIERRA LEONE

5/25/2011, 4:06 p.m.

May 17 (GIN)--British company Cluff Gold has announced it will build a mechanized gold mine in the southern Kangari hills after finding large deposits of gold in the rock.

The new project, located in Baomahun near the Liberian border, will have an eight-year-mine life. Assuming a $1,200-plus gold price, it could deliver a $600 million return. Other Cluff Gold investments are also turning nice profits--their mine in Cte d'Ivoire produced 20,222 ounces of gold last year despite turmoil in the country.

Under the terms of Sierra Leone's new Mines and Minerals Act, Cluff Gold must invest one-tenth of annual revenue in local communities.

But the news has not given comfort to local gold miners who worry about the future. When the mine starts operations, they will have to move if they can't get jobs with Cluff Gold.

Bobo Simbo, for example, reported making enough from selling gold dust to take care of his wife and three children. The guarantee of a daily profit makes the backbreaking work worthwhile, he said to the Voice of America.

A new article, "Artisanal Gold Mining: A New Frontier in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone," suggests that the small-scale gold mining sector could ameliorate Sierra Leone's emerging "crisis of youth," providing immediate economic relief for jobless young people desperate for work.