Gold miners in Migori County are quitting the job in the wake of increasing number of deaths in the tunnels blamed on unsafe mining methods.
Most of the deaths reported in Mikeyi and Macalder mines in Nyatike Sub-County are linked to suffocation.
Eric Onyango, 30, said he has shifted to farming after he lost some of his close friends in the mines.
Titus Otieno, a 33-year-old former miner, is now doing taxi business in Migori town.
The miners normally use generators to light the tunnels and go up to 50-feet underground without safety gadgets.
Western Kenya produces an estimated 2,000 kg of gold per annum, which is mainly handled by small-scale traders who sell their minerals to middlemen.
Kenya hoped the award of a mining licence to the likes of Goldplat, listed at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2011, would elevate gold trading to the mainstream economy.