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Bauxite Mining and Bead Production in Ghana


John Haigh

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Abompe is the current bauxite beadmaking site in Ghana and the hills of the Kwahu Plateau above the village are pocked with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pits dug in search of the raw material. To determine the age of the beadmaking industry in the region, people in Abompe and other villages were interviewed and related stories that suggest the first beadmakers were following the example of people in or around Bepong, a village on the plateau above Abompe. Three areas of bauxite pits on the Kwahu Plateau were investigated to see if there was physical evidence of ancient mining; those currently used by Abompe people and those previously dug by Bepong and Adasowase people. Four boulders with polished upper surfaces were found in the Abompe mining area and are believed to represent large-scale bead polishing. Caves where miners occasionally stay overnight were explored and evidence of bead production in the form of chipping waste was found. Pit counts by transect at Odumparara Bepo, the Abompe mining area, suggest the presence of possibly as many as 4,700 pits. These appear to have been created in the past 100 years.

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