By Michelle Smith-Exclusive to Gold Investing News Given the scattered sites of production, gold can be considered a global metal. Yet, operations in different regions often require different considerations. Here, we'll explore those relevant in Africa, but keep in mind that given its vastness and diversity, challenges often vary across the continent too. The gold mining remains heavily reliant on human labor. A major, though often under-prioritized, consideration for miners in Africa are the health issues their workers face. HIV/AIDS should be a top concern for mining companies, especially those in southern Africa. The region is considered the epicenter of the epidemic with about a third of the global infections concentrated there. Of them, nearly half are in South Africa, one of the top gold producing nations. One of the aggravating circumstances surrounding the prevalance of HIV/AIDS in the mining sector is migrant labor. Miners often travel from distant villages or across borders and only return home after months or sometimes years. As a result, there is a booming sex trade fulfilling their needs and they also commonly indulge in other casual sexual relationships. The link between mining and HIV/AIDS is one that is long running. In South Africa, experts believe that the industry hardest hit by these viruses will be mining. Some studies already project that half of mine workers are infected. Perhaps it's an unorthodox tool, but mining executives wishing to understand the HIV/AIDS and the mining community would be wise to view the movie Yesterday. Set in South Africa, it is a excellent depiction that can be very insightful to those who have little or no insight of the lives of African mining families. Lung diseases, such as silicosis and Tuberculosis (TB), are another major health consideration for African gold miners. Workers are at risk of silicosis when they breath silica, which is commonly found in the dust in gold mines. RBC Capital Markets estimates that pending silicosis lawsuits against South Africa's gold miners could cost them $100 billion. A study in Tanzania suggests that silica exposure during small-scale mining is likely to be considerably higher than that which is found in studies from places such as South Africa and China. Those studies are mainly restricted to investigations done in large and medium-sized mining companies where the working conditions have generally improved, the Tanzanian study says. Our limited amount of information strongly indicates that the risk of acquiring silicosis is very high in this working environment.