The situation for rural, novice, amateur miners here is dangerous and grave. Mining is a way of life in the rainforest highlands of Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines. Much like fishing or farming is passed down from generation to generation, mining is a familial trade here. However, fathers routinely die young due to their highly unsafe mining practices adhering to no modern or standard techniques. The young men in this photo are brothers. One is still under the age of 18.
They pick up axes, crobars, or sometimes simply their hands and strike away at rocks. They then grind the rocks down and simply blend the mixture with mercury which dissolves away impurities and reveals gold or silver. The process is done using their hands. The mercury then seeps in and day by day, week by week, leads to disease and death at an early age.