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Artisanal Gold Mining in Cameroon
Batouri, Bunduru Foro, Nairobi
By annamayumi
09 Jun 2015

Cameroon lies on the "gold belt" of West Africa, stretching from Mali through Ghana far into the continent. The eastern part bordering with the political instable Central African Republic is considered one of the most promising regions regarding gold and diamond resources. The business remains a poorly regulated one with hardly any official figures available on extraction or trade. Modern mining methods are under-utilised and foreign investors still to be drawn to the country. In more recent years international companies - mainly from France, China and Canada have shown increasing interest. With poor regulation of the sector and government prone for corruption this development is welcomed with careful scepticism. Illegal mining, land grabbing, and unlawfully accessed licences contribute to a bad image. 

Much of the gold extraction is conducted in artisanal mines. Families and villages jointly work together. Child labor is common, and numerous organizations have reported cases of parents taking their children out of school in order to support the family. 

Many of the informal mines are run by middle-men buying off the minerals (gold and diamonds) at low prices. But money issues are pressing and leave little room and/ or power for negotiation. A gram of 18 karat gold - the result of often multiple days of work goes for as little 10.000 XAF (about 15 Euros)

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

 

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Jharia Coal Fire 08
Jharia
By Sanjay Pandey
18 Mar 2015

A coal seam fire rages in a state-run mine in Jharia.

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Salt mine on Ukrainian Frontline Rema...
Artemivsk, Ukraine
By Chris Collison
18 Feb 2015

As the bloody military conflict in eastern Ukraine drags on, work at the country’s largest salt mine continues, even though it operates just a few kilometers from heavy fighting between Russian-backed insurgents and Ukrainian forces.

Artemsol, in the town of Soledar in the Donetsk region, employs more than 3,000 local residents. It is the lifeblood of a community that has found itself on the front lines of the violent conflict.

Workers in the mine say they cannot leave because they need their jobs to survive.

The salt mine is facing financial setbacks after Russia blocked imports of its food-grade salt amid the conflict between the two former Soviet republics. Russia’s consumer watchdog has blocked imports of some Ukrainian food products for what it says are safety concerns. Ukraine and foreign observers say Russia is targeting certain industries to punish the Ukrainian economy.

The mine’s general director, Denys Fomenko, says the government-run company is looking for more clients in Europe, but ultimately he hopes Russia will reopen its borders to Artemsol.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has forced many of the Donetsk region’s industries - mostly coal mines - to shut down. But Artemsol has managed to keep running.

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Apache Spring: The Fight for Oak Flat
San Carlos, Arizona
By upheavalproductions
18 Feb 2015

IF LICENSED, THE CONTRIBUTOR CAN EDIT THE FINAL OUTPUT OF THIS DOCUMENTARY ACCORDING TO YOUR SPECIFICATIONS.

In Arizona Apache activists lead a 45 mile march culminating in an open-ended occupation of sacred land recently turned over to Resolution Copper for mining. In December Sen. John McCain attached a rider to the Defense Bill giving the 2,400 acre Oak Flat to the Rio Tinto subsidiary. This story follows several activists during the actions, beginning on the San Carlos Indian Reservation and through the occupation at Oak Flat.

Originally Oak Flat was part of the initial San Carlos Indian Reservation when it was established in 1872. As with much of the land surrounding the Reservation as it exists today, the land was taken away from the Apache Tribes parcel by parcel in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and given to an expanding mining industry. Oak Flat, however, unlike other parcels, was made exempt from mining in 1955 by an executive order issued by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower and was preserved as part of the Tonto National Forest. December's legislation effectively overturns that executive order.

The Apache now living on the San Carlos Reservation are not traditionally from that specific area. Apache tribes lived in the surrounding mountains, including the area of Oak Flat, before being defeated by the US Calvary and driven onto the Reservation in the late 1800s. The Reservation was originally a prison camp. Oak Flat is one of several sites that was once Apache land but has long since been out of the tribes' control. For countless generations the site has been considered a holy place in their native religion. In addition to it being an ancestral home of the Apache, Oak Flat is also a burial site; a place to gather acorns as part of a traditional fall ritual; and a location for the Sunrise Ceremony, the coming-of-age ceremony for young Apache women, among other traditions.

What makes the Oak Flat mining project especially controversial is the method of mining that will be used, called "block cave mining." At Oak Flat, the copper ore lies more than a mile beneath the surface. In contrast to conventional mining practices, "block cave" essentially digs deep and removes all of the matter from a site - copper ore, earth, waste, etc. - and the top eventually caves in on top of the cavern. This is a far cheaper but far more destructive process. Once the mine is in full operation no one will be permitted to access Oak Flat - not campers, climbers, and hikers; not the Apache who consider it a sacred place. And according to Resolution Copper itself, as the entire surface collapses Oak Flat will eventually be destroyed.

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Red Clay Miner 01
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Hormuz’s ocher is used in at least twenty different industrial products like paint, cosmetics, tiles and ceramics, mosaics, clay and glaze pottery, and the production of industrial micronized powders, among others.

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Red Clay Miner 02
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Ali Hashem puts on his safety gear.

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Red Clay Miner 03
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Red Clay Miner 04
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Red Clay Miner 05
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Red Clay Miner 06
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Red Clay Miner 07
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Ali Hashem, 40, works at the Hormuz red clay mine and moves bags containing soil to be loaded and shipped for processing. Hashem says he is paid $260 per month and that the “amount of work is not worth the low payment workers receive monthly.”

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Red Clay Miner 08
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Ali loads bags of red clay onto a three wheel motorcycle.

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Red Clay Miner 09
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Ali Hashem, 40, works at the Hormuz red clay mine and moves bags containing soil to be loaded and shipped for processing. Hashem says he is paid $260 per month and that the “amount of work is not worth the low payment workers receive monthly.”

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Red Clay Miner 16
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Red Clay Miner 15
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Ali Hashem works 8 hours daily in a red clay mine.

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Red Clay Miner 17
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

“I am going to get married,” Ali Hashem, 40, says, “but my income is just too low working in this mine.”

Red Clay Miner 10
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
31 Dec 2014

Lunch break at the red clay mine in Hormuz.

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Red Clay Miner 11
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
30 Dec 2014

Ali Hashem gets $250 per month to work in an unhealthy environment.

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Red Clay Miner 12
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
30 Dec 2014

Ali Hashem works 8 hours per day in a red clay mine.

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Red Clay Miner 13
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
30 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Red Clay Miner 14
Hormuz
By Mehdi Nazeri
30 Dec 2014

Working conditions for laborers in Hormuz’s mines are very difficult, with one of the main issues being workplace conditions and a lack of safety facilities.

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Jharia Coal Fire 03
Jharia
By Sanjay Pandey
24 Nov 2014

Smoke comes out of a drain along the main road in Jharia, hinting at the alarming levels of underground fires in area. A few years ago, fires damaged the Jharia railway station, leading to its eventual closure.

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Jharia Coal Fire 16
Jharia
By Sanjay Pandey
24 Nov 2014

People pilfer coal from state-run mines in Jharia.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

Smoke comes out of a drain along the main road in Jharia, hinting at the alarming levels of underground fires in area. A few years ago, fires damaged the Jharia railway station, leading to its eventual closure.

Activists claim that the mining company in charge of the coal operations are allowing the fires to persist. The company is said to do this because the fires force residents off of their land for safety reasons, thus opening more prospective areas for mining.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

Miners push around 350 kilograms of on a bicycle up a hillside.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

A young girl miner observes her colleagues. Many local children are forced to work pilfering coal from state-owned mines in the area.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

A miner takes a break overlooking the state-run open pit coal mine in Jharia. Miners have to manually carry large loads of coal from the bottom of the mine to the top, where it is delivered for processing.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

A boy carrying a heavy load of coal over his head in Jharia. Many local children are forced to work pilfering coal from state-owned mines in the area.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

Miners have to manually carry large loads of coal from the bottom of the mine to the top, where it is delivered for processing.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

A female miner balances raw coal stones on her head. The work is grueling and harmful to the health of the workers.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

Smoke from underground fires rise in the state-run open pit mine near Jharia.

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Mining the inferno- india's 100-year-...
Jharia, Jharkhand
By adrian
23 Nov 2014

Miners have to manually carry large loads of coal from the bottom of the mine to the top, where it is delivered for processing.

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Jharia Coal Fire 14
Jharia
By Sanjay Pandey
23 Nov 2014

A boy carrying a heavy load of coal over his head in Jharia. Many local children are forced to work pilfering coal from state-owned mines in the area.

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Jharia Coal Fire 21
Jharia
By Sanjay Pandey
23 Nov 2014

Children play in the streets of Belgharia, a township that has been set to up accommodate residents of Jharia displaced by the fire.

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Mining the Inferno: India's 100 Year ...
Jharia
By Sanjay Pandey
14 Nov 2014

Roughly 700,000 people live immediately above a series of underground fires that have been smoldering in the town of Jharia for a century, come next year. The government of India is, quite literally, playing with fire.

“State-run coal firm BCCL is deliberately stoking the fire so that they can have more and more of the area declared unsafe to live in and get a broader area in which to continue its mining operations,” says activist Ashok Agarwal of Jharia Coalfield Bachao Samiti, an organization formed by locals to fight the government’s dictatorial policies.

The area is rich in coal and, to cut costs, much of the mining in the area is done by opencast methods. Opencast mining is more profitable than deep mining since the costs of excavation are low and productivity is significantly higher. In Jharia, some 270km from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand province, coal is mined everywhere. People armed with shovels dig their way into rat-hole mines near villages and dwellings, roads and even railway tracks.

Bokalpari is one of the many areas affected by the perennial fires in Jharia: no less than 67 have been raging in the belly of the earth. Mining in the area is a source of revenue and livelihood. But with the advent of modern machines, a majority of the manual workforce has become redundant. For villagers like Shamim Khan, mining has become more of a curse. Shamim used to work as driver’s assistant, but is currently unemployed.  

“I haven’t had a job for around 5 years now," he said. "When my forefathers came here decades ago hoping to earn a good living, they left their land and property behind in Bihar. Now, we cannot even go and reclaim that land.”

Coal-seam fires annually spew around 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making India the fourth biggest producer of greenhouse gas of the world. In Jharia, mining started back in 1896. After the nationalization of all coalmines in 1971, many were handed over to the state-owned Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL). But the desire to produce cheaper and cheaper coal prompted BCCL to depart from the standard practice of underground or tunnel mining in 1974.

“Coal-seam fires are nothing new in the coal belt. But they became a threat after BCCL opened up the mines,” says Agarwal.

The underground fires in Jharia will be a century old next year, but the government seems to be doing little to douse the flames.

“The BCCL is digging the fire out as part of the master plan,” says T K Lahiri, a managing director of BCCL.

Though mining companies are officially meant to fill abandoned mines with sand, anyone can see that the pits are left unattended. According to local residents, the leftover coal in these pits then comes into contact with oxygen and catches fire. The government’s plan of relocating residents of fire-affected areas has not yet materialized due to resistance from the people and officials’ half-hearted approach to the issue. So far, around 1100 families out of 2500 have been relocated to a township in Belgaria. Those who have moved to the township complain of a lack of basic amenities and job opportunities. This has prompted many to return to their fire-ravaged villages.

“Since there is no source of employment, I have to travel 13km on foot to reach Bokapahari. I know people here so it is easier for me to get a job,” says Shamim, 45, whose two sons have migrated to Delhi where they work as daily wage laborers.

As for those who decided to stay on, a different kind of social problem has emerged. Now, boys and girls living in fire-affected parts of Jharia find it difficult to find a match for themselves. Akhtari Bano, 75, has three marriageable sons and two daughters, but is not able to find anyone suitable for them.  

“It is not that the proposals don’t come at all. But when people come and see that we’re sitting on the lap of a burning fire and that smoke is always emanating from our houses, they run away,” she says. “The government might be having fun playing with fire. But why play with our lives?”

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Cameroon Gold Mining 04
Batouri, Burundu Foro, Cameroon
By annamayumi
21 Aug 2014

Artisanal mining in the village of Bunduru Foro is done with rudimentary tools as tin bowls, plastic buckets, showels, and simple sieves.

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Cameroon Gold Mining 03
Batouri, Burundu Foro, Cameroon
By annamayumi
21 Aug 2014

The village of Burundu Foro was built in order to access the mineral rich soil close to the border with the Central African Republic.

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Cameroon Gold Mining 05
Batouri, Burundu Foro, Cameroon
By annamayumi
21 Aug 2014

The village of Burundu Foro was built in order to access the mineral rich soil close to the border with the Central African Republic. Many children regularly fail to attend school in order to support join their families from a very young age working in the mines. 18-year-old Pier sold a gram of gold for 10,000 XAF. He might get a better price (up to 14,000) but doesn't want to wait, he said.

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Cameroon's Informal Mines 07
Batouri, Burundu Foro, Cameroon
By annamayumi
21 Aug 2014

Artisanal mining in the village of Burundu Foro is done with rudimentary tools as tin bowls, plastic buckets, showels, and simple sieves. Familiy members organize themselves throughout various stations of digging and washing the soil. The physically stronger male members of the community dig up the mineral rich soil in unsecured quarries dozens of meters below the surface.