Driven by need, tens of thousands of women are risking death, disease and sexual violence to scrape a living in the country’s informal mining sector

On the outskirts of Durban Deep, an abandoned mining town with a labyrinth of underground tunnels long since abandoned by the big gold companies, Elizabeth goes rhythmically about her work.

Grinding piles of rough stones into white, gold-flecked silt on a large concrete slab, the 40-year-old is one of the ghostly dust-covered zama zamas – artisanal miners, mostly illegal – who have turned to scavenging in disused gold and diamond mines across South Africa.

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Read More ‘You often get sick’: the deadly toll of illegal gold mining in South Africa | Christopher Clark

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