Peru Ends Illegal Mining
Source: Press TV (2/21/11)
"The government sent about 1,000 security forces to destroy illegal operations."
The government sent about 1,000 security forces to the region of Madre de Dios to destroy the illegal operations, the state-funded BBC reported.
At least seven dredging boats used to extract gold from the river bed were discovered and set on fire or sunk by the forces.
Illegal miners are reportedly able to make up to USD 30,000 per day without paying taxes on their gold extractions.
Eighteen tons of gold is extracted from the region every year, according to government officials.
These activities have caused serious damage to biodiversity in the region, located in the Amazon rainforest along the Interoceanic Highway linking Peru and Brazil.
Three times the amount of mercury is used to extract every gram of gold, a condition which leads to the release of more than 40 tons of toxic metal into the environment and the poisoning of the food chain.
Deforestation of the area for mining, as well as agriculture, has caused at least 18,000 hectares of the rainforest to be transformed into desert, Peru's Environment Minister Antonio Brack said.
Many migrant workers are lured to the area in search of work. Child prostitution, money laundering, slavery and drug-trafficking are also caused by the increased in illicit cash and activities.
Environmentalists say the government has known for years of the destructive and illegal activities in the region, but has previously failed to act.