Working in the mines

The hard facts about working in the mines:

  • The majority of miners do not reach 40 – 45 years of age.
  • After 7 – 10 years in the mines, the miner will suffer from silicosis (lung dust disease).
  • When the miner has lost 50% of his lung capacity, he has to stop work and will receive a small pension.
  • He works underground for at least 7 hours a day, 5 – 6 days a week.
  • Children of 12 years of age will go underground too, to work as assistants.
  • There are no lifts and some mines employ a winch.
  • In other mines, a miner will carry 30 – 40 kg sacks of minerals on his back.
  • A plug of coca leaves in his mouth will make him less sensitive to hunger, thirst, pain, cold and altitude.
  • Only a few mines provide electrical tools.
  • The minero (miner) will dig for lead, silver, zinc and tin with hammer, iron bars and dynamite.
  • He has to buy his tools, dynamite, coca leaves, lamps, etc himself.
  • There is no fresh air or ventilation except for the main mine shaft itself.
  • The higher-situated mine shafts are in different climates, wherein it can freeze.
  • The temperature in the deeper tunnels can reach 45°C.