In Burkina Faso’s Gold Mines, Children Toil Along With Adults

View a collection of Larry C. Price’s images from Burkina Faso.

Children caked in dust and sweat climb in and out of 150-foot mine shafts with dexterity. Their small bodies operate makeshift grinding machines to extract gold from its ore.

Photographer Larry C. Price traveled to remote mining towns in Burkina Faso, along the Ghana and Ivory Coast borders, to document the use of child labor, which is technically against the law but often overlooked in the West African country that depends on gold exports for revenues.

Despite the rough conditions, the children seemed resigned to their task and still found moments to revel in their youth. They were joking and laughing and even playing cards when they weren’t hard at work, said Price from his home in Dayton, Ohio. “What impressed me is kids are kids.”

They did get exhausted, and slept soundly in the dirt at the mining sites, oblivious to the pounding noises around them, he added.

Children worked alongside their parents, who sometimes pulled them from school so that they could help the family draw a meager income. “I saw 3- and 4-year-olds sorting rocks,” said Price, who described the scenes as heartbreaking but real.

“This stuff is happening right now and I’m trying to communicate this fact.”

Price received funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. View more of his work on its project page, The Cost of Gold: Child Labor in Burkina Faso.

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