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In the remote wilderness of the Belinga mountains in northeast Gabon, men with shovels in hand dig from morning to night, filling wheelbarrows with soil laced with what they are looking for: gold.

The clearing in the equatorial forest is covered with dozens of holes, some four metres deep.

"We arrive around seven in the morning, and finish at 6:00 pm... the production isn't that good," says Aboubakar Coulibably, a Malian with muscular arms who moves around 200 wheelbarrows full of the gold-bearing soil per day.