While in many countries they mine for coal or other types of minerals, in Guatemala, there are people that are mining for gold, silver, nails, any type of metal in the waters that flow out of the garbage heaps from Guatemala’s main landfill.
The water is gray and toxic, not the kind we would want to walk into and there are many in it up to their necks. It stinks and it’s a very risky way to earn money.
They use shovels to try and dig into the base of the flowing water and bring up treasures. The water rushes through the area, taking the trash away from the area with it. Behind it, in the basin can lie, jewelry, gold, and other precious metal parts.
The area is referred to as a mine and the people who come there to try and find metals are called, miners. Daily, 300 miners walk to the ravine and go out into the water. While out there, they risk piles of garbage falling on them and trapping them under the water.
Even with the risk of death, many feel the mining is valuable. Many say it pays better than the minimum wage of $270 a month in Central America. A find of a gold bracelet brought the miner $256. That was quite a find for him.
The miners report to work daily as if they were going to a regular job. They start off the day dressed very nicely and groomed. Some change into other clothing at nearby camps before entering the mining area.
The miners bring their own shovels, and back packs with lots of garbage bags in them. They also bring something to eat along with a different pair of clothing.
One man, Eddie Miranda says, “I make more money coming here than going to a company where they would continually scold me.” Eddie finds about $20 worth of scrap a day. That comes to a lot more than the minimum wage of $270.
They do risk their lives to provide for their family, but a lot of jobs do. This is one where you don’t have to answer to a foreman. You are you’re own boss. If you don’t earn anything for the day, no one can call you a mess up or fire you. Tomorrow you will be back on the job.