There are currently 115 million children with ages from five to 17 years old who work in hazardous occupations worldwide, the United Nations International Labor Organization estimates. Among them, about a million children work in the mining industry. Hundreds of maybe even thousands of them live in the Philippines.
Recently, the Center for Investigative Reporting, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, published an article about this scourge through the site Philly.com. The piece started by telling the story of a young miner:
Romnick Bocejo picked up his blowtorch and blasted a small lump of mercury and gold. A cloud of toxic fumes rose around his head as the heat vaporized the mercury. He covered his mouth and nose with his T-shirt, and kept working.
At 16, Bocejo has worked half his life in the meager family business: looking for gold in the remote mining region of Camarines Norte, about 200 miles southeast of Manila.
One of his jobs is to burn the mercury, and on this occasion, he produced a button-size lump of nearly pure gold. He is uncertain whether to believe the smoke is dangerous.