|La Rinconada in Peru is 16,732 feet (5,100 metres) above above sea level, the weather remains freezing throughout the year, and the only way in and out of the town is via icy and dangerous roads. |
Yet for 45 years, the allure of gold has brought cheap labor willing to endure the hellish conditions.
|The economy is based on the production of gold in the nearby mine. Many miners work at the gold mine owned by Corporación Ananea. Under the cachorreo system they work for 30 days without payment. On the 31st day they are allowed to take with them as much ore as they can carry on their shoulders.|
Whether the ore contains any gold or not is a matter of luck.
|Besides the remote location and harsh climate, La Rinconada is also without basic infrastructure.|
The town is completely without plumbing or any form of sanitation. Matters have gotten worse since the population grew over 200% to 30,000 in 2009. It is now estimated to contain 60,000 residents.