A load too Heavy: child labour in mining and quarrying
This year World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) called our attention to a form of work that is dangerous to children in every way. It is physically dangerous because of the heavy and awkward loads, the strenuousness of the work, the unstable underground structures, the tools, the toxic chemicals, and the exposure to sun and water. It can also be morally and psychologically risky given that mining often takes place in remote areas where law, schools, and social services are unknown, where family and community support may not exist, where "boom or bust" conditions foster alcohol abuse, drugs, and prostitution.
Quarrying occurs in most countries; child labour is found in quarrying in much of the developing world. Although children can be seen breaking stones alongside roads and cutting and hauling rock from pits that produce construction materials, no one knows just how many adults and children struggle to make a living this way. Artisanal, small-scale mining employs approximately 13 million people worldwide - one million of these are children. The numbers are rising as economies falter; more people now work in small-scale mines than in the formal mining sector.