Posted by: ecodestination | October 12, 2009

The Peruvian Amazon, Pt. 3: Unregulated gold mining, Govts, and mercury

Rio Huaypetue gold mine - and rampant deforestation - in southeastern Peru - photo by Mangobay.com

Illegal gold mining is a multi-pronged mess, spawning social, environmental, and economic unrest. As mentioned in part two of the Peruvian Amazon Interoceanic Highway posts, Peru sees its fair share of this problem.

The easier it gets to travel to the lowlands, the easier it gets for highlanders to venture down to take on whatever work they can – even if they must destroy their own land in the process – to seek a better living.

Natl Govt looks to ban illegal mining

Environment Minister Antonio Brack said last month that the government will seek to ban unregulated mining for gold in the country’s southeastern rainforest, reports Bloomberg.

Mining operations require cutting down stretches of rainforest. Further, unregulated gold mining pollutes 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of the Amazon River basin, he said, in the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) region.

The Ministry is thus looking to reach an agreement with national and regional governments to stop the environmental destruction.

“Informal mining, which doesn’t meet minimal environmental standards, is the country’s biggest social and ecological problem,” Brack said.

“These operations, which are spreading across the Andes and the Amazon, have an enormous impact on biodiversity and native communities.”

Unregulated gold miners live in extreme poverty

Unregulated gold miners live in extreme poverty

Mercury and the environment

Mercury is used to separate gold ore from rock in the refining process.

Alluvial mining, or dredging for gold along river banks, is the norm in these lowlands. It is extensively harmful to the environment and is deadly for human and nonhuman animals alike.

About 32 tons of mercury are dumped into the rainforest’s rivers annually by miners. The pollution has a reach of 500 km. (300 mi.) – all the way into Brazil.

Read about the terrible effects of these gold mining poisons on local communities.

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Responses

  1. […] we saw in part three of the Peruvian Amazon Interoceanic Highway posts, which also discusses illegal gold mining, […]

  2. […] The Peruvian Amazon, Pt. 4: But how do you stop gold mining? By ecodestination As we saw in part three of the Peruvian Amazon Interoceanic Highway posts, which also discusses illegal gold mining, […]


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