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Tough life, Strong women
The Horse Market
Day after the war
"Rathole" mining
Old age
This photo essay about the illegal miners of Southern Poland. The big industrail mines were closed in the 1990's, so now the mining is done freelance in small "ratholes" to make money for local people. Most of the estimated 3,000 men who work the mines used to work in the big corpoate mines, but since these clsoed, the only work available is to work in these samll illegal homeamde mines. These groups of men from 3-7, work home dug mines, very close to cities, but which they have to hide from the local police. They have to hand dig each hole, and then reinforce with local cut timber. It is extremely dangerous. I went down into the mines by use of a simple rope and I was lowered in. All the coal is hand bagged and brought up and out to be sold in local markets or door to door. The Polish government is trying to shut these small operations down, and these mine have to be ready to accept a bull dowser coming thru at any time to destroy their work, and then they will start again.

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This website and all photographs © Beata Wolniewicz 2011