MAC: Mines and Communities

Peruvian Police Destroy Entire Town of 'Illegal' Miners

Published by MAC on 2015-08-02
Source: Mining.com, TeleSurTV (2015-08-05)

Peruvian police burns down entire illegal gold mine town

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

31 July 2015

Armed police swooped in to Peru’s Amazon basin this week, burning down an entire town that was home to a vast illegal gold operation, which caused the destruction of a huge swathe of rainforest.

The unprecedented operation, El Telégrafo reports, involved nearly 900 police officers and armed helicopters, which main mission was to eradicate 55 illegal mining settlements in the Peruvian jungle.

The action triggered severe criticism, with many are accusing authorities of an excessive use of public force. But the illegal mining commissioner, Antonio Fernandez, says these operations will continue. "We have to keep doing this until these criminals understand that what they do is illegal," he told the newspaper, adding that illegal mining usually goes hand in hand with other criminal activities, such as child labour and prostitution.

Peruvian police burns down entire illegal gold mine town

The illegal activity also carries an enormous ecological price. Mercury is most commonly used to extract gold particles, but illegal miners use it in an inappropriate way, letting the toxic metal contaminate rivers and destroying wildlife’s natural habitats.

The latest crackdown is not, however, the first time Peru tries intimidating illegals with massive operations. In November last year, the government sent 1,000 police to dismantle gold mining camps in the same area, known as La Pampa.

Up until two years ago no one knew the full extent of the damage, until a research team from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, and Peru’s Ministry of the Environment used satellite imagery to map the destruction.

The findings shocked millions and finally highlighted the devastating effect the illegal mines have had.

According to official figures, there are more than a half million illegal miners operating Peru and it is estimated that more that 22% of the $10 billion Peru gets from gold exports comes from illegal mining.


Peruvian Police Destroy Entire Town of Illegal Miners

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Peruvian-Police-Destroys-an-Entire-Town-of-Illegal-Miners-20150726-0020.html

26 July 2015

Illegal mining is rife in Peru: it provides one-fifth of Peru’s gold exports. Authorities say a multitude of other criminal activities develop around the sites.

Peruvian police destroyed and evicted the village of La Pampa as part of an operation aimed at eradicating 55 illegal mining settlements in the Peruvian jungle.

The unofficial settlement is in the southeastern jungle region of Madre de Dios, which borders the popular tourism department of Cusco, home to Machu Picchu.

In the unprecedented operation, the Peruvian government deployed armed helicopters and nearly 900 police officers to raid an illegal gold mine and the settlement that had grown up around it, leaving hundreds homeless.

The action has been criticized by many as an excessive use of public force, however, the illegal mining commissioner, Antonio Fernandez, says these operations will continue. "We have to keep doing this until these criminals understand that what they do is illegal," he said, adding that illegal mining is accompanied by other criminal activities, such as child labor and prostitution.

Local media reported that as part of the operation in La Pampa, 32 women who had been forced into prostitution were rescued.

Illegal mining in Peru brings a series of problems ranging from organized crime to political corruption to black market trading and more, everything linked to the search for the gold.

The illegal activity also carries a huge ecological price. Mercury is most commonly used to extract gold particles, but illegal miners use it in an inappropriate way, allowing the toxic metal to contaminate local ecosystems.

According to official figures there are more than a half million illegal miners operating in 24 out of the South American country's 26 regions and it is estimated that more that 22 percent of the US$10 billion Peru exports in gold comes from illegal mining.

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