Meet the struggling gold miners who are missing out on boom in the precious metal – by Sara Geenen and Boris Verbrugge (The Conversation – May 21, 2020)

Sara Geenen is an Assistant professor in Globalisation, International Development and Poverty, University of Antwerp and Boris Verbrugge is a Post-doctoral Researcher in Development Studies, University of Antwerp.

In Mukungwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of young men and women live in makeshift huts. They have no access to sanitation or health facilities.

They work as manual drillers, carriers or timber specialists in narrow underground tunnels, which exposes them to everything from toxic metals to cave-ins and even suffocation.

They work in teams under different agreements with a local paymaster, sometimes sharing what they find, sometimes receiving a wage or payments in kind. Outside the pits, others work as rock crushers, water carriers, washers or cooks.

Small buyers lurk around with hand-held scales, using old coins and toothpicks to weigh the gold. For miners lucky enough to extract a little precious metal, there are dollars to be made from the dust.

In the Philippines, men, women and children work underground. They pan for gold in rivers and creeks, or use hydraulic hoses to extract gold-bearing sediments

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