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High price to pay

A new report outlines the harsh conditions endured by child gold miners in the Philippines

Southeast Asia Globe editorial
October 1, 2015

A new report outlines the harsh conditions endured by child gold miners in the Philippines

bicol, child. mining, philippines
Hard labour: an 11-year-old boy works at an underwater mining site in Camarines Norte province, Philippines. Photo: Mark Z.Saludes

In the Philippines, thousands of children toil in makeshift mines in search of specks of gold. Kids as young as nine work in unstable 25-metre-deep pits that could collapse at any moment, while others seek the precious metal underwater in rivers, using rudimentary oxygen tubes that hang from their mouths. Still more process gold with the toxic metal mercury, risking irreversible health damage.
These practices are outlined in a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) entitled What… if something went wrong? The organisation interviewed 65 child miners in the Bicol region, revealing their terror at entering the mines and the symptoms of mercury poisoning.
HRW believes that the Philippine government is not doing enough to protect these vulnerable children. The report states that government has ratified treaties and enacted laws to combat the worst forms of child labour, but it has largely failed to implement the legislation, and there is very little monitoring of child labour in mining, with employers rarely prosecuted.
HRW have also released a short video to accompany the report.
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