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mine worker with drill

Miner with Air Drill

Candelaria silver mine - Potosi (Bolivia)

Ruta Nacional 1, Potosi, Bolivia

The Candelaria mine is one of the oldest silver mines of Potosí, and it has been active for more than 200 years.­

But the rich silver ore veins are long gone, and the remaining ore contains less than 15% of silver and various other metals.­

Working in mines like this one is probably one of the worst job on earth.­ The air is thin because of the high altitude, and in the mine, the air is very bad, loaded with thick rock dust and chemical fumes from blasted dynamite.­ It is hot and cramped, the galleries are narrow, steep, dangerous, poorly maintained and often cave in.­ there is no electricity, no water, no ventilation, no safety or communication equipment, and most of the work is done with manual tools (picks, hammers, wheelbarrow).­

After spending a few hours in this mine, just walking around and taking photos, I was drained and I just wanted out.­

Bolivia 171 photos

Photos taken in Bolivia in February and March 2010.­

Related series:

- Uyuni Train Cemetery (Bolivia).

- Silver Mine - Potosí (Bolivia).

- Argentina.

- Chile.

Photos of a road construction sites and mines using dynamite to blast rocks (Bolivia, Vietnam and India)

In Vietnam, I stopped to see what the road construction people were doing and I realized that there was 20 pounds of dynamite sitting on the road just next to me! There were sticks of dynamite all over the place, as well as blasting caps.­ The motorized traffic on this country road is so infrequent that they did not really care about any sort of traffic control.­ Just don't be there when they blast! Next blast in 15 minutes.­

I had never seen real dynamite in my life.­ It feels strange to be so close from something that can blow you to small pieces.­ I hope the dynamite they use is good quality and stable.­ I still have the stick they gave me as a souvenir (just kidding).­ Actually I don't think they would have cared if one was missing, though.­ There were so many sticks everywhere!