Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Madre de Dios region, Peruvian Amazon

A combination of field surveys, airborne mapping, and high-resolution satellite imaging have determined that clandestine operations now make up more than half of all gold mining activities in the Western Amazonian forests of Peru.

Researchers assessed road- and river-based gold mining in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon from 1999 to 2012. During this period, gold mining increased 400%. In 2008 alone, the average rate of forest loss as a result of gold mining tripled.

Madre de Dios now supplies more than 70% of Peru’s gold production; however, mining activities remain mostly unpermitted by the government.

The authors discovered hundreds of new small mines in the foothills in the headwater region of the Colorado, Inambari, and Malinowski Rivers.
About 500,000 traditional miners, including 100,000 women and children, are exposed to mercury. It’s hard to stop the use of mercury because people depend on it for their livelihood. Miners obtain it from the black market. Miners also use cyanide and directly dump the waste into rivers. Babies and children in the surveyed communities show signs of neurological disorder, cerebral palsy, and deformity.