Hard work close to home

On the outskirts of Ouagadougou a deep hollow abyss has been opened over the last 20 years where thousands of tonnes of granite is mined each year.

Thick smoke rises from the bottom of a massive pit in the early morning in Burkina Faso’s Capitol. the smell of burning tires fills the morning air as hundreds of people make their way to their work stations to begin their long days work. Men ,women and young adults break up exposed granite faces at the bottom the pit after it’s been baking under burning tires for a few days at a time. once the burnt tires and cleared sledge hammers are swung to break the slabs up into pieces small enough to be carried on heads up the steep side of the mine.

 

Women surrounding the edge of the pit under make shift bamboo tents break the larger granite slabs into small stones to be sold on to building merchants and developers all over Burkina Faso.

 

The most striking part of this whole operation is it’s proximity to the city. The land that the mine is on is owned by the army which has a a barracks adjacent to the mine, only a few days before my visit it was in this army barracks that a coup d’etat took place. Miners continued to work while gun shots could be heard from above.

*Photos and words by Guy Peterson