19 Oct 2013 11:00
Editor's Picks 19 October: Mineral Miners
Collection with 6 media items created by Editor's Picks
The gold diggers wash the soil during the day and all night, hoping that it reveals the precious metal. The majority of prospectors arrive illegally from neighboring countries like Zimbabwe. The gold nuggets, belonging to the state, end up in the hands of Nigerian, Somalian, Zimbabwean, Israeli and Lebanese merchants. The state is left with the ground and rivers where the water is no longer suitable for drinking and the ground infertile. The rivers become heavily polluted from mercury used to extract the gold, poisoning aquatic life in the river and posing a serious health risks for the gold diggers. The diggers work on their own account and after selling the gold they must give half of the money to the owner of the land they found it on.
The gold diggers work all day shifts and produce on average 2 to 3 grams of gold a day. On more productive days, they produce up to 15-30 grams. The work is demanding when the gold diggers get their break it is well spent usually on a quick sleep. Mozambique 2013.
Traditional Illegal gold miner pans for gold.
Illegal gold miner Ali works at the base of tunnel approx. 35 meters underground. Working long hours in cramped humid conditions with poor ventilation.
The work takes a toll on their bodies. But their bodies have, in turn, adapted, some have hyper-developed shoulder muscles from years of lugging heavy baskets up and down the mountain.
Lake Katwe - Uganda - 2012-08-17- Formed about ten thousand years ago from a volcanic eruption, Lake Katwe lies in Queen Elisabeth National Park, in Kasese district, western Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo through Lake Edward. Lake Katwe salt mine is a source of livelihood to over three thousand people in the area and in good times hundreds of salt miners at Lake Katwe can make a reasonable living, even if in self-slavery. Due to the hyper saline water that sucks moisture from their bodies and infuses them with toxic chemicals, there are severe health complications. The smell of hydrogen sulphide is all over the place. For the women when the female reproductive organs get in contact with this salty water, more often they develop uterine complications. The men on the other hand are also affected. When the male organs come into contact with this salty water, they itch, which makes them scratch their male organs causing wounds. Surviving for a meager five dollars a day is a poor income. Coarse salt is still mined the way it was done over centuries years ago. Men, women and children all work at the mines for their own survival, including a large number of refugees from the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo. Workers extract three main products from Lake Katwe: blocks of rock salt used in curing hides; high quality salt crystals that can be sold as table salt; and salty mud that is used as salt licks for cattle. The picture shows a salt miner working on salt pans on the shore of Lake Katwe.