JOSE PANGANIBAN, Philippines, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — On a sunny November day, Domingo Chavez, with a goggle strapped over his eyes and an oxygen hose plugged in his mouth, plunged into a gold mine dug in a paddy field in Jose Panganiban, in central Philippine Camarines Norte.
After about 40 minutes of working in the 10-meter deep underwater tunnel, he surfaced with two bags of rocks fished out of the muddied hole. “I know it is dangerous. In the past some people were buried alive when the shaft caved in,” Chavez said.
Thirty-seven-year old Chavez is an artisanal and small-scale gold miner, one of over 300,000 artisanal gold miners in the country, including over 18,000 women and children, who scraped a hard living by working in ramshackle and dangerous mines.