Child Labor in Burkina Faso’s Gold Mines

“Children in the Goldmines” is a powerful project by documentary maker and photographer Daimon Xanthopoulos, highlighting the unacceptable reality of child labor in the small scale gold mines of Burkina Faso. Despite widespread opposition to child exploitation, the story of these young miners remains largely untold. As the world experiences a gold rush and the price of gold continues to soar, children in Burkina Faso risk their lives by mining for gold in dangerous and inhospitable conditions. They descend deep into the earth, hacking at the precious metal with hand tools and facing the dangers of long infections and mold. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, there is ongoing discussion about fair food, clean energy, and slavery-free chocolate, but the exploitation of these young miners continues year after year. The gold they extract serves as the foundation of the global financial system, yet the people and communities who produce it live in deep poverty with no prospects for the future. They are forced to sell their gold locally for a fraction of its market value. Daimon Xanthopoulos poses a critical question: why do we prioritize fair production for bananas and chocolate, yet accept that the basis of our banking system and the seal of a marriage is built on gold extracted by children, with no future or fair distribution of profits?

In addition to the dangers and exploitation faced by child miners in Burkina Faso, the use of mercury in the gold extraction process presents a serious health hazard. Small-scale miners, including children, often handle the toxic metal recklessly, leading to serious health problems such as mercury poisoning. This project not only sheds light on the inhumane conditions faced by child miners but also highlights the wider environmental and health impacts of the gold mining industry. Through his powerful images and poignant commentary, Daimon Xanthopoulos makes a compelling case for greater awareness and action to end child exploitation in the gold mines of Burkina Faso and beyond. The exhibit serves as a call to conscience for individuals and organizations around the world to take responsibility for the impact of their actions and to work towards a fairer and more sustainable future.


Benaki museum Athens [Greece]