Stories > Child Workers in Potosí

Child Labour in Potosi

Children workers are a sad and tragic reality in Potosi; due to the circumstances -unbearable economic situation, a lack of opportunities for many families and by simply being the son of a miner-, they renounce to their childhood and have to quickly learn the job that is said has killed 8 million people since the opening of the mine some 500 years ago. Some start at the age of 10, some earlier.

Every day around 4.500 miners (adults and children) enter Cerro Rico to extract what’s left of Silver, Zinc and Tin in a place with one of the worst working conditions on earth, hoping to find a vein that will change their life and their family’s. The life expectancy of a Potosi miner is 35-40 years old; amongst the reasons that explain it are: an absolute lack of basic safety conditions, fine dust in the tunnels (main responsible for Silicosis), toxic gases, a high presence of asbestos, rock collapses and the consumption of 96º alcohol at break time.

The children that go in the mine are treated the same way as any other worker and will rapidly learn the same traditions and habits as their workmates, inevitably stepping into manhood faster than they ever expected.