Miner buying Dynamite sticks, fuses, blasting caps and Ammonium Nitrate mix at the grocery store - Potosi (Bolivia)
A stick of dynamite like this one costs about $2, and the fuse and blasting cap are less than $2. Dynamite is used everyday in local mines, and you can buy it about everywhere in Bolivia.
The store also sells pink bags of premixed ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate with Fuel Oil), an explosive that is cheaper and more powerful than dynamite, but hard to detonate. Dynamite is used to trigger the blast of the Ammonium Nitrate mix.
Ammonium Nitrate (a common fertiliser) was used to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.
For more information about Ammonium Nitrate explosive, read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANFO
For more information about Dynamite, read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamite
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.
Photos taken in Bolivia in February and March 2010.
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!