I travelled to Zimbabwe to have a look at the small scale illegal gold mining that goes on out there. I was very lucky to have great access to a couple of miners as they are usually very hard to keep track of. Miners move around frequently as they exhaust the resources in each location. Mining in Zimbabwe is a very dangerous job, as these men have no formal training and are working from their instinct to find money in the ground, quite literally.
The two brothers I was lucky enough to photograph, had been working on their small mine for about three months, it was 15 meters deep. They had been excavating the hole with three dollars worth of explosive bought from a man that would walk around the bush specifically to sell it to the various illegal mines. After using explosive to shift the rock they would then excavate it in huge bags using their bare hands.
I spent time with the brothers at they were sampling the rock. This meant they would take bags of samples to the river and using a home made ‘James table,’ extract any gold using mercury. If an adequate amount of gold per tonne of rock was found they would hire heavy equipment to transport heavy loads of rock to the mill. A good find for these brothers would be 25-30 grams of gold per ton of rock.
These images where shot on my Hasselblad with a digital back