Workers Threatened By Rise In Smaller Mines

A rapid increase in small-scale mining in poor nations, often employing women and children, is generating a heavy toll in fatalities and disease, says the Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO). Small-scale mining has risen by 20% annually over the last five years in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Four out of five of the new mines fall outside any regulatory framework, triggering a death risk 90 times higher than in the U.S. and other industrialized countries. Small mines employ an estimated 13 million workers worldwide and produce up to 20% of world output of precious metals, gems, building materials, and nonfuel minerals, according to the ILO. The world labor body urged governments to encourage good mining practices and improve the lot of small-scale miners and their communities.

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