New label boosts mine practices—and prices


A dozen years ago, this community perched on a dusty, lunar-looking hilltop was a cluster of straw-mat shacks encircling a mine shaft used by men and any boy big enough to carry a sack of ore. Children seesawed on huge grindstones called quimbaletes, rocking back and forth for hours crushing ore amid invisible fumes from the mercury that was used to separate gold from the rock. Miners blasted the resulting amalgam with blowtorches to vaporize the mercury—often working near their homes, where the toxic fumes wafted over the living quarters. Women, who the men say bring bad luck underground, were relegated to picking through mountains of waste rock dumped outside the mine, looking for signs of gold. Toddlers scrabbling beside them learned... [Log in to read more]

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