Abandoned workspace.


A teenager turns a customised gas cylinder filled with metal balls to crush the gold ore they extracted from under the ground.


Workspace where they wash the ore they extracted.


Mercury is used to extract gold from the ore during the process. A miner shows me the piece of gold contained within the mercury.


Zama zama’s panning for gold. Panning is the oldest method of extracting gold and one of the simplest ways to extract gold because of its cheap cost and the relatively simple and easy process.

Carpets used in the gold extraction process are left out to dry after a day's work.

Carpets used in the gold extraction process are left out to dry after a day’s work.

I came across a group of zama zama’s (illegal miners) in Benoni. They were using the same process as the guys I met in Blyvooruitzicht to extract the gold from the ore.

“Let us take for example about this area. This is Benoni, there are people that are staying in Benoni you see. There is a mine in Benoni or a mineral mine in Benoni, but the people are not benefiting from that mine in their own area. Some people doesn’t even stay here and who doesn’t know about the area but they are getting something and benefitting from the area where other people are staying. But what I think now is that the people of that area of where the mine is must also get a benefit from the mine. You say that the land belongs to the government. The government earns from that mine where there is people in that area where that mine is and the minerals are being extracted. That is what I think.”

“I am working here, extracting gold somewhere from deep down the earth. That is for life, catering for my babies and children.”