An uncontrolled gold mine in Mali collapsed, leaving more than 70 people dead, according to an official.

An uncontrolled gold mine collapsed late last week, according to a Mali official, and more than 70 people are dead. The search is ongoing because there’s concern that the death toll could go higher.

Senior official Karim Berthé of the National Geology and Mining Directorate of the government confirmed the information to The Associated Press on Wednesday, describing it as an accident.

The cause of the Friday collapse, which was reported in a Ministry of Mines statement on Tuesday and left “several” miners dead, was not immediately known. The collapse happened in the Koulikoro region’s southwest, in the Kangaba district.

In Mali, the third-largest gold producer in Africa, these kinds of mishaps are frequent. Small-scale, informal artisan miners are frequently accused of disobeying safety precautions, particularly in isolated locations.

“The state must bring order to this artisanal mining sector to avoid these kinds of accidents in the future,” Berthé stated.

More than 70 are dead in unregulated gold mine collapsed in Mali
More than 70 people are dead in unregulated gold mine that collapsed in Mali

In a statement, the Ministry of Mines expressed its “deep regret” for the collapse and urged local residents living close to mining sites to “comply with safety requirements.”

There have been worries in recent years that Islamic extremists operating in northern Mali might profit from unrestricted mining activities there.

However, that is far to the south of this most recent collapse and closer to Bamako, the capital.

“Mali’s primary export is gold, accounting for over 80% of all exports in 2021,” the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration states. It claims that over two million people, or more than 10% of Mali’s total population, make their living from mining.

According to the Ministry of Mines estimates, the nation possesses 800 metric tonnes of gold reserves.

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