MAC: Mines and Communities

Informal Miners Using Nazca Lines As Roadways

Published by MAC on 2007-07-22
Source: El Comercio

Three informal gold processing plants have been set up in none other than the "untouchable zone" of the Nazca and Palpa lines, putting the pre-Inca legacy in risk.

Diario El Comercio

22th July 2007

By José Rosales Vargas -

"The lines and tracings of Nazca are nothing less than a documental history of the people and science of prehispanic Perú. In them we find registered a scientific tradition where the ancient Peruvians developed an alphabet to record the most important events of those days. The plains of Nasca are the pages of a book written with this extraordinary alphabet". María Reiche, May, 1993.

This is the description that German resercher María Reiche wrote about the set of lines and geoglyphs drawn in the plains of Nazca as well as in the foothills of the Palpa. It probably doesn't mean much to the operators of three gold processing plants who have set up their improvised machinery in these protected zones. In the processing of the precious metal, there are over a hundred informal miners in the high mountain areas of both provinces. The plant which has been located in the sector of Llipata, at kilometer 411 of the southern Panamerican Highway in Palpa, is even using some of the lines and tracings as roadways for the passage of their trucks.

After a fly-over carried out over the plains of Nazca and the hills of Palpa some days ago, with the regional director of the National Institute for Culture (INC) of Ica, Alfredo González Barahona, and the head of the air expedition Ojos de Condor, Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre, this newspaper confirmed the new damages that are being perpetrated against this important archeological zone.


Nearby these artisanal gold processing plants, tailings dams and reservoirs with accumulated wastes and waste which has presumably fallen from vehicles during transport of mineral, ares visible. In the face of this delicate situation which has emerged in the past few months in these protected zones, declared as National Heritage, Gonzalez Barahona stated that the INC will notify the owners of these three artisanal plants that they must withdraw all of their installations, as well as the discarded wastes; he did not discount the idea of criminal charges.

At least two of the three gold processing plants do not have operating permits awarded by the Ministry of Mining and Energy, and neither do they have Declarations of Environmental Impact, warned Alexandra Chipana Morazzani, head of the Municipal Program for the Organization of Artesanal mining for the district of El Ingenio.


On the average some 200 tons are processed monthly in the plants installed in the protected zones of Nazca and Palpa.

450 square kilometers is the size of the protected zone of Nazca, declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1994.

400 persons visit the geoglyphs of Nazca each day, constituting one of the most important
tourist attractions in the country.

400,000 soles is the amount that the government has destined towards improving tourist facilities in Nasca and improving the protection of the geoglyphs.

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