Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
14 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner works at the base of tunnel approx. 35 meters underground.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
14 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner works at the base of tunnel approx. 35 meters underground.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Bunyawangi Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
14 Jan 2011

Miners pan for traces of gold from the top soil near one of the working tunnels. Illegal gold mine.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
14 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner pans for gold. Tumpang Pitu in Banyuwangi, East Java.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Tumpang Pitu, Pesanggaran, Banyuwangi, EastJava, Indonesia.
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

The U.N Minamata Convention on Mercury is scheduled to be adopted and opened for signature at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries (Diplomatic Conference) in Kumamoto and Minamata, Japan from 10 to 11 October 2013.
The booming price of gold in recent years has triggered a significant growth in small-scale mining where mercury is used to separate gold from the ore-bearing rock. Workers and their families involved in small-scale gold mining are exposed to mercury pollution in several ways including through inhalation during the smelting. Mercury is also being released into river systems from these small-scale operations where it can contaminate fish, the food chain and people downstream.
Although the use of mercury for small-scale gold mining is banned in Indonesia, it's difficult to enforce. And there's a hope that the forthcoming ratification of the U.N.'s convention will mean international assistance to help miners change the way they work. Today Indonesia ranks behind only China in the use of mercury in gold mining.

The tradition of mining gold started at least as early as the first millennium BC. Sought after since the beginning of recorded history, gold remains a highly valued metal, reaching record highs on September 2011, Gold prices peaked at $1,921 an ounce. Gold prices rose as investors worried about the potential for another U.S. recession. Recently the bank lifted its gold price outlook for 2013 to $1,446 per ounce from $1,396, and kept its 2014 forecast unchanged at $1,435 an ounce.
This rise in the price of and demand for gold has created a gold rush since the mid 2000 across Ghana, Brazil, Peru and Indonesia to name but a few.There are an estimated 10-15 million unregulated gold miners around the world, operating in 70 countries. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest informal producers of this precious metal.
Currently, Indonesia produces around four percent of global gold production. In Indonesia the government estimates there are 62,000 illegal miners across the country, twice the number working legally.
But it also seeks to recognize the rights of indigenous miners and calls on legal mining firms to provide more help to local communities. One of those local communities is Presanggaran as small town located just east of mount Tumpang Pitu in Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia.
The mine has been in operation since June 2009 and local villagers have begun protesting because the waste produced by the mine is polluting the environment.
The gold mine in Tumpang Pitu which is a nature conservation area has sparked controversy in connection with threats to wildlife around the protected forest. Also the contamination by ore and mercury is a menace to the life and productivity of the local community.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Fellow gold miner Supar accompanies Ali as he enters the tunnel.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner Ali searches for traces of gold at base of tunnel approx. 35 meters underground.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

The men work in a shift rotation as staying more than two hours continuously in the humid oxygen deprived environment can become unbearable. Ali and Supar always take the first shift, one working while the other keeps watch for potential cave-ins and accidents.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner Supar examines a small sample of rock to check for gold, where Ali is digging.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Ali begins first shift working non stop for approx 1 1/2 hrs, at this depth of approx. 35m the rock has become much harder and more difficult to work.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner Ali climbs 35 meters into tunnel. Miners with inadequate equipment run other risks, too. Traditional miners are not supposed to dig below 25 metres.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner Ali exhausted, takes a break as fellow miner Supar takes over second work shift.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal miner Supar searches among the rubble for traces of gold.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Supar takes on the second shift of work while Ali climbs out of tunnel for air. Long periods of time in tunnel with high humidity and lack of oxygen is exhausting for the miners.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal miner Ali relaxes outside tunnel before his next shift begins. Miners usuallly work in shifts with two or three miners below ground and two above. This is done for general safety. One keeping an eye on those working below, while others watch the camp from above ground.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miners begin digging a new tunnel. In Indonesia the government estimates there are 62,000 illegal miners across the country, twice the number working legally.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miners begin digging a new tunnel. Illegal mining of gold has rocketed in many poor countries as gold prices have risen. This has created difficulties for established gold mining companies, dangers for the illegal miners themselves, as well as environmental problems.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Miner carries fire wood towards his camp. Many miners have travel to illegal gold mines from throughout Indonesia. Living and sleeping on the mountain in hope of striking it rich.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

The mine has been in operation since June 2009 with miners travelling from throughout Indonesia. Living on the mountain side in make shift camps. Local villagers from Presanggaran have begun protesting because of the waste produced by the mine is polluting the environment.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miner carries soil from mountain slopes to artifical ponds in the valley to pan for gold. As part of prospecting operation.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Many mining tunnels are abandoned once discovery of gold become scarce. Traditional miners are not supposed to dig below 25 metres.
But some dig to 80 metres where there are rock falls constantly. But the presence of gold is too alluring. But as tunnels deepen the rock becomes harder and the risk of flood becomes higher.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines Indonesia
Banyuwangi, Indonesia
By Jeffrey Bright
13 Jan 2011

Illegal gold miners Ali and Supar cross river on their way home. Traveling 2km on foot from the mining camp to the edge of the forest weaving among the numerous trails. Before continuing their journey by motorbike to the village of Presanggaran.

Thumb sm
Illegal Gold Mines in Indonesia
Bunyawangi, Indonesia
By Transterra Editor
13 Jan 2011

The tradition of mining gold started at least as early as the first millennium BC. Sought after since the beginning of recorded history, gold remains a highly valued metal, reaching record highs recently on December 2, 2009, gold passed the important barrier of US$1200 per ounce to close at $1215. Gold further rallied, hitting new highs in May 2010 after the European Union debt crisis prompted further purchase of gold as a safe asset. September 2010 rose to a record $1,300 an ounce. Since April 2001 the gold price has more than tripled in value against the US dollar.
Illegal mining of gold has rocketed in many poor countries as gold prices have risen. This has created difficulties for established gold mining companies, dangers for the illegal miners themselves, as well as environmental problems.
This rise in the price of gold has created a gold rush since the mid 2000 across Ghana, Brazil, Peru and Indonesia to name but a few. As a new gold rush spreads to the world’s remotest corners, the face-off between illegal, small-scale miners and multinational firms has cost millions of dollars and claimed lives.
In Indonesia the government estimates there are 62,000 illegal miners across the country, twice the number working legally. Mines and Energy Minister Bambang Yudhoyono told parliament recently that annual losses amounted to 30 tonnes of gold. Thus far there are no answers to the problem. President Wahid's decree calls on the police chief and attorney-general to take "stern legalaction" against anyone involved in illegal mining--"both government apparatus and community members."
But it also seeks to recognize the rights of indigenous miners and calls on legal mining firms to provide
more help to local communities. One of those local communities is Presanggaran as small town located just east of mount Tumpang Pitu in Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia.
Where many miners travel daily to the illegal mines located on Tumbang Pitu. The mine has been in operation since June 2009 and local villagers have begun protesting because the waste produced by the mine is polluting the environment. Two illegal miner’s Ali aged 33 and Supur aged 30, who both live in Presanggaran.
They meet up daily at 7.00am with fellow miner’s at the local shop buying batteries for their headlamps, re-fuel their motorbikes and stock up on cigarettes. Then begins the 7km journey to the base of the mountain, where riders dismount and continue the final 2km on foot to the mining camp weaving among the numerous trails through out the low lying forest.
Upon arrival miners relax and joke before the days work begins. Ali and Supur along with fellow miners have been for the past year tunnelling deep in to mount Tumpang Pitu. Their tunnel is approx. 35 meters deep splitting into two parts at approx. 20 meters. The men work in a shift rotation as staying more than two hours continuously in the humid oxygen deprived environment can become unbearable. Ali and Supur always take the first shift, one working while the other keeps watch for potential cave-ins and accidents. Illegal miners with inadequate equipment run other risks, too. Traditional miners are not supposed to dig below 25 metres.
But some are down to 80 metres there are rock falls constantly but the presence of gold is too alluring. The miners can collect about 1 to 5 grams of gold and earn up to 175,000 rupiah (€15) a day. Supur estimates in the last year they have discovered 1 to 1 ½ kg of gold in their tunnel. But as it deepens the rock becomes harder and the risk of flood becomes higher. They contemplate to continue on, branch of in other directions or search elsewhere.
But one thing is certain if the price of gold remains the same or continues to rise, these illegal mines will remain the same or continue to grow.

Photos By: Jeffrey Bright

Thumb sm
Fort Europa
Athens, Greece
By Carsten Snejbjerg
13 Dec 2010

Greece is the main entry point for about 90 percent of all illegal immigrants of all nationalities arriving in the European Union, according to Warsaw-based Frontex, the European Union border agency.

Ismaiel Rahimir from Afghanistan has sown his lips together during a hungerstrike to protest the long wait times for processing applications for refugee or humanitarian status in Greece. According to Caritas Athens, only four people were granted refugee status during the first six months of 2010. As of December 2010, Ismaiel Rahimir had been waiting for more than a year for a decision of his status.

Thumb sm
Fort Europa 2
Calais, France
By Carsten Snejbjerg
03 Mar 2010

An estimated number of five million illegal migrants live and work in the European Union. A number growing with at least 500.000 each year, despite great efforts by the EU, and in particularly the border states Spain, Greece and Italy, to prevent them from entering the EU.
In an area in the outskirts of Calais which goes by the name “the jungle", Afghan children and adolescents as young as 12 years of age, wash themselves in the waste water of the local factory.
They seek shelter and try to keep warm under blankets in the bushes and in tents donated by local charity organizations. It has been a very long and harsh winter. Should the migrants by any chance have assumed to have reached a peaceful place to rest after fleeing the war in Afghanistan, they have very soon been met by a quiet different reality. In the jungle of Calais the Afghan boys also seek shelter from a different power: the local riot police.