A small boy uses a shovel to move mud into a sluice box near the Panique mining area on the Island of Masbate in the Philippines. Child labor is on the rise due to a steady increase in the price of gold worldwide. An estimated 18,000 children work in small-scale mines in the Philippines. The country ranks 18th in gold production worldwide and the steady increase in global gold prices have had a corresponding impact on the number of child laborers. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
An older miner and a younger boy are chin deep in frigid water 150-meters below the surface as they work a gold mine near Syndicate on the island of Masbate. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A watery soup of gold ore and clay is mixed by hands and feet in a wooden trough before being sacked for later processing at the Dalas mining area in northern Luzon. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A young boy uses a piece of rebar to chip gold ore near the bottom of a pit at the Panique mining area on the Island of Masbate. Children as young as 10 are allowed to work in some of the smaller spaces to collect ore. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
Small-scale miners work a sluice box on a beach near Paracale on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The sand in this area is rich in gold yet extracting gold particles is difficult and dangerous. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
At the Panique mining area on the island of Masbate, a young boy struggles to pour a bucket of ore into a sluice box. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A small boy carries a 40-pound sack of gold ore through a field of mud at the Panique mining area on Masbate Island. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A little boy, perhaps about five-years-old carries a half-filled ore sack up a hillside at the Panique mine. An estimated 18,000 children work in small-scale mines in the Philippines. The country ranks 18th in gold production worldwide and the steady increase in global gold prices have had a corresponding impact on the number of child laborers. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A four-year-old girl works a sluice box at the Panique mining area on Masbate Island. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
Mercury is used to separate gold flakes from rock during the panning process. Much of the mercury used in gold production worldwide leaches into the environment and watershed. Mercury levels are often elevated in children who work and play in small-scale mining operations. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
Here a miner washes in a river where mercury is used in a panning operation. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
Mercury attracts flakes of gold and forms an amalgam, shown here, the consistency of toothpaste, which is then vaporized with a torch to reveal pure gold. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A miner prepares to enter a "compressor mine" near the coastal mining area near Peracale. Compressor mining is the most dangerous form of mining. Young men and older teens slip to the bottom of 40-foot, water-filled shafts to fill sacks of ore. Miners breathe through a plastic tube fed by small compressors on the surface and stay on the bottom to work for up to two hours. Cave-ins are common and usually fatal. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A miner surfaces after spending an hour at the bottom of a "compressor mine" near the jungle mining area near Dalas. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A child, muddy after a day of panning for gold flakes, washes himself in muddy runoff water before stopping for the day An estimated 18,000 children work in small-scale mines in the Philippines. The country ranks 18th in gold production worldwide and the steady increase in global gold prices have had a corresponding impact on the number of child laborers. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A small child cries as he stops on a hillside high above the mining pits near Panique. Children are expected to carry sacks of ore from the pits to a staging area where the ore is collected and taken to a gold-processing facility. In the background is a lake that is contaminated by runoff containing cyanide and mercury. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.
A young boy takes shelter under a tarp during a heavy rainstorm that stopped work temporarily at a mining camp near the village of Dalas. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2012.

The islands of the Philippines are rich in gold, producing more than 31 metric tons in 2011 to rank 18th in world production. More than half of that gold comes from small-scale mines. It is in these mines that you will find the children.

Project

Tiny children and teens toil in the gold mines of the Philippines. It is very risky business, sometimes deadly. But child labor is growing as families rush to exploit the worldwide craze for gold.

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