Tanzania: Hazardous Life of Child Gold Miners
 Children as young as eight years old are working in Tanzanian small-scale gold mines, with grave risks to their health and even their lives. The Tanzanian government should curb child labor in small-scale mining, including at informal, unlicensed mines, and the World Bank and donor countries should support these efforts.
A recent HRW report describes how thousands of children work in licensed and unlicensed small-scale gold mines in Tanzania, Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer. They dig and drill in deep, unstable pits, work underground for shifts of up to 24 hours, and transport and crush heavy bags of gold ore. Children risk injury from pit collapses and accidents with tools, as well as long-term health damage from exposure to mercury, breathing dust, and carrying heavy loads. A 17-year-old boy who survived a pit accident told Human Rights Watch, “I thought I was dead, I was so frightened.”
Tanzanian boys and girls are lured to the gold mines in the hopes of a better life, but find themselves stuck in a dead-end cycle of danger and despair.
Photo: Four-year-old girl in Tanzania plays in an amalgamation pond contaminated with mercury while adults process gold. © 2012 Zama Coursen-Neff/Human Rights Watch
Tanzania: Hazardous Life of Child Gold Miners

 Children as young as eight years old are working in Tanzanian small-scale gold mines, with grave risks to their health and even their lives. The Tanzanian government should curb child labor in small-scale mining, including at informal, unlicensed mines, and the World Bank and donor countries should support these efforts.

A recent HRW report describes how thousands of children work in licensed and unlicensed small-scale gold mines in Tanzania, Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer. They dig and drill in deep, unstable pits, work underground for shifts of up to 24 hours, and transport and crush heavy bags of gold ore. Children risk injury from pit collapses and accidents with tools, as well as long-term health damage from exposure to mercury, breathing dust, and carrying heavy loads. A 17-year-old boy who survived a pit accident told Human Rights Watch, “I thought I was dead, I was so frightened.”

Tanzanian boys and girls are lured to the gold mines in the hopes of a better life, but find themselves stuck in a dead-end cycle of danger and despair.

Photo: Four-year-old girl in Tanzania plays in an amalgamation pond contaminated with mercury while adults process gold. © 2012 Zama Coursen-Neff/Human Rights Watch