Lives at risk in the Philippine Gold Mines
Mine workers in the Emerald Mountain mining area just outside Baguio, a large city on northern Luzon Island, use an environmentally progressive method to extract gold from ore. Instead of mercury, miners use cyanide and borax to process ore. The process is more labor intensive, however. Cyanide is highly poisonous and the byproducts of gold processing can harm the environment but is considered more environmentally friendly than using mercury...On Emerald Mountain, miners extract ore with picks and hammers and load the ore into small carts. Ore sacks are stacked for tumbling into fine particles which are then mixed with cyanide crystals to form gold cyanide, a compound that can reduced by treatment with sulfuric acid. Further panning and separation reveals low-grade gold particles suspended in a dense mud. This is treated with borax, heated in a crude blast furnace to reveal higher-grade gold...Photos show the ore tumblers, cyanide-laced sludge, Sodium Cyanide pellets on top of ore sacks and miners at work panning. Other miners work inside Emerald Mine...After the panning process, a miner wraps a ball of processed sludge in a small plastic bag doused with borax. The bag is placed in a high intensity charcoal furnace fed with forced air to achieve higher temperatures. After about 20 minutes, byproducts are evaporated revealing the pure gold. ..A miner displays a nugget worth about $2100. After giving the landowner a 70 percent share of the gold production and splitting the remainder, a typical small-scale miner makes about $30. per day...Story Summary:.Small-scale gold mining in the Philippines uses mercury and cyanide to extract elemental gold from ore extracted from mines and pits dug by hand. Very young children, some as young as four, are put to work at less dangerous but still rigorous tasks in the gold mining areas. These include panning in streams or rivers and hauling ore sacks that can weigh up to 60 pounds. Children often play near mechanized e
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- Child Labor: Philippines Gold Mining