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The Gold Fever of Lombok
lombok
By Elisabetta Zavoli
29 Apr 2014

Indonesia has a long tradition of gold mining. The country is in fact one of the world’s top gold producers. But when the price of gold increased in 2007 and early 2008, an illegal gold rush began. “Before 2009, people in the Mount Prabu area were all farmers or day workers. In 2008, people from Java and Kalimantan came here to teach us how to extract gold from the soil and rocks. Since then, everyone wants to be a miner”, Dina, an inhabitant, explains. The reason behind people's interest in gold mining is easy to understand. An average daily income for a farmer or a fisherman, living in central and south Lombok, is about 10 thousand Rupees, less than one US Dollar, while the daily earnings from gold mining activity can be five to ten times that amount.. At first, villagers became wealthy quickly because the first layers of ground were naturally rich in gold. Between 2008 and 2009, there were 10 to 20 grams of gold in every 30 kilogram bag of ore. However, in 2014 the concentration of gold in the soil has decreased to less than one gram per bag. The situation has drastically changed but villagers have not been able to save or invest the gains they made during the first years of activity. Most of them have spent all their money on consumer goods such as motorbikes, jewelry and hi-tech items. “When there will be no more ore to be processed for gold, I’ll come back to be a farmer”, Dina says. The gold rush in Lombok has not only changed the economy of a region, it has also had a serious impact on the environment. Today, the hills in Sekotong Province look like a gruyere cheese. Hundreds of meters of tunnels have been dug and now form a dense network that has weakened the hills from inside. Miners, most of whom are former farmers without any kind of knowledge of mining, dig tirelessly on land owned by someone else. As modern sharecroppers, they give the owner 5 bags full of soil for every 15 bags they collect, without knowing the concentration of gold in each bag. They keep the other 10 bags as their salaries. What remains is equally divided among the miners working in the same tunnel. Gold mining is a hazardous job. Many miners died when a tunnel collapsed on them. Mercury and cyanide slurry are everywhere. Miners use them without any kind of protection. Mercury accumulates in the body, degrading the nervous system and leading sometimes to madness. In 2011, Sekotong Province counted around 12 thousand grinders. Each grinder can mill 5 kilograms of raw ore and needs a hundred grams of liquid mercury to extract gold. Usually, the family of the miner can do two to three cycles of processing per day, using the same mercury for several extractions. Although the use of mercury in gold mining is illegal in Indonesia, it is commonly used to extract gold. Every year, tens of tons of mercury are released in the environment. In Lombok, gold fever seems to be more dangerous than dengue fever.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 15
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
13 Mar 2014

Tom Hendricks, gold miner and owner of The Cross mine, Nederland Colorado. As a 19-year old geology student, Tom discovered The Cross mine. After he got his geology degree in 1973 he acquired it and began working it in 1977. He has since made it his life's work to mine in an environmentally sound way, minimizing environmental damage.

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Gold Mining in Colorado
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Since the current economic crisis, poverty and unemployment in Colorado has soared. As in other places across the globe, there has been a sharp resurgence in gold mining as a source of income in the state. This ‘gold rush’ is reminiscent of the Great Depression of 1929, when people supported themselves in the same way, extracting more gold from the ground than in the whole of the first gold rush of the late 1850’s.

The following series of portraits and landscapes were taken with the aim of capturing a phenomenon that is both starkly contemporary and reminiscent of the mythic Wild West.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 2
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Jim, gold prospector, Golden Colorado. Jim, who regularly goes prospecting with his grandson Wesley, knows the country around Golden Colorado intimately, and believes that there is good money to be made if you know which rivers to pan and which mine tailings to excavate. He has many tricks of the trade including how to spot where an old jar of coins could be buried by finding the fence post that is raised higher than its neighbors.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 12
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Wesley, gold prospector, Golden Colorado. Wesley regularly goes prospecting with his grandfather Jim in and around Golden Colorado, where panners and prospectors can make around $200-$300 dollars a day.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 9
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Cloud over the Little Johnny mine, near Leadville Colorado.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 8
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Gold panners, near Golden Colorado. Due to the increase in unemployment in the state, gold panners like these are an increasingly popular site in the mountains, where on a good day it's possible to make $200-$300 per day.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 7
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Jesse and Justin, gold miners near Blackhawk Colorado. The nuggets Jesse and Justin hold are worth over $15,000 and came from the mine which is on their property. They make their living from these impressive looking nuggets and from a small tourist gold panning business which Jesse runs out of the small river that runs through the property.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 4
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Bill, gold prospector and owner of 'Gold - N - Detectors' prospecting supplies store Golden Colorado. 'Gold - N - Detectors' sells prospecting supplies and showcases customers and Bill's own finds. There has been a dramatic increase in demand for gold panning equipment and metal detectors since the economic downturn.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 17
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Open cast gold mine, near Cripple Creek Colorado. This open cast mine, still producing gold, is an industrial operation in complete contrast to the small scale operations of many subsistence miners in Colorado.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 11
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Gold panning equipment by river at 'Vic's Gold panning' tourist attraction near Blackhawk Colorado.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 6
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Abandoned mine workings, Nevadaville Colorado. These abandoned mine workings on the outskirts of the ghost town of Nevadaville are the only thing left to see of the 'played out' mine they served. Like many other nearby ghost towns in Colorado, Nevadaville's residents left after the mines stopped producing.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 14
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Flooded and collapsed mine shaft, Stumptown Colorado.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 1
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
12 Mar 2014

Jesse, gold miner and mine owner near Blackhawk Colorado. Jesse owns a gold and silver mine which he says has been in use since the spanish conquistadors passed through the country hundreds of years ago. He makes his living from impressive looking gold nuggets he finds and from a small tourist gold panning business which he runs out of the small river that runs through his property. The nearby post gold rush towns of Blackhawk and Central City have been transformed in recent years by the relaxing of gambling laws leading to the construction of vast casino complexes to entice gambling tourists and prevent them from becoming part of Colorado's ghost town history.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 3
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
11 Mar 2014

Bob, gold prospector, Little Jonny Mine, Stumptown Colorado. Stumptown was once the site of a booming mining industry. These times long since past, have left the hillside scattered with the remains of mine shafts and mine tailings - piles of material brought to the surface when excavating the mine tunnels. Modern day prospectors search these tailings with metal detectors, hoping to scavenge nuggets that were missed the first time around.

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Gold Mining in Colorado 10
Colorado, United States
By Jon Cardwell
11 Mar 2014

Cow skull at 'Vic's Gold panning' tourist attraction near Blackhawk Colorado.

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Gun Disease in Myanmar
By Spike Johnson
10 Oct 2013

In the gold mines of Sinktu and Thabait Kyin, in the Mandalay division of Myanmar, gold mining is famous. Over thirty gold mines are active, but the scene doesn't look much like wealth. Half naked men, with rusty pneumatic drills and homemade dynamite are lowered 500 feet, on fraying ropes, into holes in the ground. Covering their faces with rags, they drill gold ore from the stone.

“We break the rocks with high pressured guns, but breathe the small particles that come from breaking the stone. We contract lung infections that we call "gun disease," says Wat Tay, 35, a gold miner from Sintku Township.

This year gold production in the area has doubled due to softening government sanctions and international demand. Myanmar's huge mineral deposits are seen as key sectors in export-driven growth. In recent months the price of gold has slowly risen in Myanmar, possibly linked to the decline of the dollar, as an opportunistic public sell their jewelry at high prices ready to buy back if prices drop.

Forums are being held in capital cities by the Myanmar government, mine owners, and the Ministry of Mines to persuade foreign investment from corporate companies for industrial technology. The idea is to reduce Myanmar's poverty rate from 26 percent to 16 percent by 2015, by exporting the country's gold reserves. However, added demand for export means an increased need for manpower, working hours, and medical support.

Through the night groups of men squat above mine shafts, ankle deep in muddy puddles, waiting to haul out ore or winch up their friends. After working in the mines for around ten years, the worker's lungs give in form undiagnosed diseases. Hidden in bamboo huts, attached to oxygen, they weaze out their last days.

“The owners of gold pits don't care about the health issues of the miners, so the health problems are increasing. They don't pay for safety protection for us, so we make do ourselves, like putting some clothes over our mouths, or buying cheap masks to reduce the dust we breath in,” says Wat Tay.

Miners are given one or two bananas after a shift in the tunnels, to help with nutrition. But no respiration equipment is provided by the mine owners, and the miners don't have the money to invest in equipment themselves. Although cases are frequent, perhaps inevitable, there is no health care system for the miners and no diagnosis of “gun disease.” Instead they are given a tank of oxygen and left to fend for themselves, too weak to seek other employment or to leave their huts.

“I can't breathe well. If I breath my abdominal muscles are tight and it hurts also in my back. I pain feel when I breathe. Twice they've given me pills for Tuberculosis, but this medicine has no effect for me,” says Kwin Tone Sel, 42. He used to mine in Sintku Township, before his lung disease prevented him from leaving his bed.

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"I Don't Pay Movement", Greek Austeri...
Athens,Greece
By giorgos33
01 Apr 2013

Members of the " I Don't Pay" movement protest against gold mining in Halkidiki.

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The Vengeful Ghosts Of A Gold Mine
Karnataka, India
By Javed Iqbal
08 Mar 2013

Today, the abandoned Mangalur mining office is used by farmers to store sugarcane and paddy.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
29 Jan 2013

29 January 2013. La Rinconada: A nurse tests a prostitute working in a brothel in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru, on the HIV-AIDS. Around 1% of about 1,000 prostitutes in town get positive every year.
La Rinconada was a nice, quiet rural village in Peru’s Los Andes range twenty years ago. However, the economic crisis in the country and the discovery of gold changed the town completely during the nineties. Now, it is a crowded place where thousands of the poor from all over South America frequently immigrate looking for opportunity. The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services. The increase in the price of gold (25% last year and 600% in ten years) has pushed many more people to move up there.
Nowadays, the landscape in La Rinconada is full of metallic shelters built without official permits. There is no pavement, sewers and running water. It is full of rubbish and defecation everywhere. It is now a place with serious problems of alcoholism, drugs and crime. The police is nearly absent and illegal prostitution is always present. The use of mercury to separate gold from rock has created a high level of pollution that provokes aggressiveness among the population. This, added to the fact that La Rinconada is about 6,000 meters altitude, causes also breath sicknesses (especially among children) and the local clinic covers just 10% of the needs. Despite some apparent efforts of the local administration, the situation is getting worse year by year.
Photo by Albert González Farran.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 19
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
26 Jan 2013

A central street in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.
La Rinconada was a nice, quiet rural village in Peru’s Los Andes range twenty years ago. However, the economic crisis in the country and the discovery of gold changed the town completely during the nineties. Now, it is a crowded place where thousands of the poor from all over South America frequently immigrate looking for opportunity. The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 18
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
24 Jan 2013

Cerro Lunar: Vanesa Canesa is photographed with her daughter Ana Paula in front of their little house, made with stones and "calamina" (metal layer), in Cerro Lunar, Ananea, Peru. Vanesa is a miner's wife and she used to support her husband working on "Pallaqueo" (collecting stones thrown from the mines looking for gold) and now she quit due to health reasons.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 20
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
23 Jan 2013

Left to right, Lucy Callpacruz and Norma Quispe (with her two children Eduardo Cristian and Chantal Ochoqui), both miner's wives, are pictured in their little house made with "calamina" (metal layer) in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru. Lucy has nine children and she is from Putina. From time to time, Lucy and Norma support their husbands working as "Pallaqueos" (selecting stones from the mine dumps looking for gold).

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 24
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
21 Jan 2013

A child is dressed by her mother after being assisted by a doctor at the health center in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru. Most of the children in La Rinconada suffer malnutrition and problems of growth due to cold weather and pollution.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 3
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 8
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 5
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps) smokes cigarettes during a break in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 4
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps) prepares a shot of an alcoholic drink during a break in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 12
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
19 Jan 2013

Pallaqueras (women who select stones from the mine dumps looking for remains of gold) are pictured at work in a mining area in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 15
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A miner guides a truck inside a goldmine in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 16
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

An exhausted miner after drilling takes a rest and cleans his dirty face, while chewing coca leaf, inside a goldmine in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

17 January 2013. La Rinconada: A group of miners in a security check-point inside a goldmine in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru, are waiting their turn to work.
La Rinconada was a nice, quiet rural village in Peru’s Los Andes range twenty years ago. However, the economic crisis in the country and the discovery of gold changed the town completely during the nineties. Now, it is a crowded place where thousands of the poor from all over South America frequently immigrate looking for opportunity. The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services. The increase in the price of gold (25% last year and 600% in ten years) has pushed many more people to move up there.
Nowadays, the landscape in La Rinconada is full of metallic shelters built without official permits. There is no pavement, sewers and running water. It is full of rubbish and defecation everywhere. It is now a place with serious problems of alcoholism, drugs and crime. The police is nearly absent and illegal prostitution is always present. The use of mercury to separate gold from rock has created a high level of pollution that provokes aggressiveness among the population. This, added to the fact that La Rinconada is about 6,000 meters altitude, causes also breath sicknesses (especially among children) and the local clinic covers just 10% of the needs. Despite some apparent efforts of the local administration, the situation is getting worse year by year.
Photo by Albert González Farran.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 13
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

"Pallaqueras" (women who select stones from the mine dumps) attend the afternoon briefing with their colleagues and the engineers of Corporación Minera Ananea in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 2
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

La Rinconada: "Pallaqueras" (women who select stones from the mine dumps) go to work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 6
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) works in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 9
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a man who selects stones from the mine dumps) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

17 January 2013. La Rinconada: "Pallaqueras" (women who select stones from the mine dumps) eat and rest outside their huts during a break in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.
La Rinconada was a nice, quiet rural village in Peru’s Los Andes range twenty years ago. However, the economic crisis in the country and the discovery of gold changed the town completely during the nineties. Now, it is a crowded place where thousands of the poor from all over South America frequently immigrate looking for opportunity. The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services. The increase in the price of gold (25% last year and 600% in ten years) has pushed many more people to move up there.
Nowadays, the landscape in La Rinconada is full of metallic shelters built without official permits. There is no pavement, sewers and running water. It is full of rubbish and defecation everywhere. It is now a place with serious problems of alcoholism, drugs and crime. The police is nearly absent and illegal prostitution is always present. The use of mercury to separate gold from rock has created a high level of pollution that provokes aggressiveness among the population. This, added to the fact that La Rinconada is about 6,000 meters altitude, causes also breath sicknesses (especially among children) and the local clinic covers just 10% of the needs. Despite some apparent efforts of the local administration, the situation is getting worse year by year.
Photo by Albert González Farran.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 1
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) takes a rest outside her shelter in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

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La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 7
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) inspects some stones in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.