Around the world, nearly one million children work in mining*. Because of their small size, they are sometimes employed at small-scale sites to work in the most dangerous part of the mining – underground. In Ghana, tens of thousands of children are compelled to climb into the gold pits every day, hoping to earn extra dollars for the household. Most lack basic safety equipment, and the mine shafts are poorly reinforced and ventilated, causing deadly cave-ins. In addition, toxic mercury is used in the processing of gold ore, potentially poisoning the children and the land around them. Despite the dangers, many impoverished families in Ghana depend on the income brought in from their children. As a result, many children drop out of school at an early age, giving them few employment options outside of mining when they grow up.
*International Labour Organization