The Traditional Gold Miners of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is where I began my quest to photograph the world's artisanal miners.  It is a brilliant country, located in the backblocks of West Africa and bordered by Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire, Mali and Niger.  Most people have never heard of it and that is perhaps why it remains one of my favourite countries around the world.  Because the people are authentic and friendly.  Authentic.  Free largely of Western cultural influences.

In recent years, sadly, the security situation has deteriorated markedly and this sequence of images would now be even more difficult than it was when I ventured there to take these images in 2010.

Many of these people work for less than 1US$ per day, but it is a lot most of them have chosen as they search for a life that will gain them wealth over and beyond that which they can earn in the fields and villages.

The work at times is dangerous and deaths are frequent.  Mostly during the summer wet season when shafts get flooded and mine walls become less stable.  Descending the mine shafts is not for the faint-hearted and it is common for the miners to drink large quantities of alcohol before going to work to give them the courage to venture into the mines.