Pacific Alliance countries Colombia, Perú and Chile combat illegal mining
By Dialogo September 11, 2014
Colombia, Perú, Chile, and México are working in cooperation to thwart the illegal mining operations of organized crime groups stealing natural resources in those countries.
These countries comprise the Pacific Alliance trade bloc, which authorities formed in 2011. The organization was formed to promote free trade and to encourage economic activity among its member states, as well as to forge closer ties with the Asia-Pacific region.
These countries are cooperating in fighting the illegal mining, export, and sale of gold, silver, copper, and iron by criminal organizations. Such illegal operations harm the environment and support terrorism.
Security forces from these countries have won important victories in the battle against illegal mining in recent months.
For example, in June, security forces in Perú destroyed more than 100 machines used by organized crime groups in illegal mining operations.
Also in June, Mexican security forces seized more than 330,000 tons of illegally mined iron ore. The iron ore was allegedly mined by the Knights Templar, a Mexican drug cartel.
Criminal and terrorist organizations are operating illegal mining enterprises in each of these countries.
For example, organized crime groups control clandestine gold refineries in Perú, and armed criminal groups operate illegal mines in Colombia, Santiago Rojas, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, said in published reports.
In addition to promoting trade, the Pacific Alliance countries also work to “to promote legal mining with innovation, sustainable development and social responsibility, and in turn, strongly combat illegal mining,” Rojas said.
Fighting a common enemy
Officials from the four countries gathered for the IX Pacific Alliance Summit, which was held June 19-20 in Nayarit, México.
During the conference, Pacific Alliance members agreed to form a working group to develop joint tactics to promote and protect legal mining in Colombia, Perú, Chile, and México.
In all four countries, “there is a special interest around energy and mining, and there are many instances in which we work together such as in training police officers. This kind of support helps us fight against a common enemy, violence and drug trafficking,” Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said during the closing session of the summit on June 20, according to Crónica.
Pacific Alliance countries are important exporters of gold, silver, and iron
The four Pacific Alliance countries provide a significant percentage of the silver, copper, and steel which is sold worldwide.
For example, jointly they account for 48 percent of the silver and 45 percent of the copper produced worldwide every year. They also account for 24 percent of the steel alloys produced annually, according to Minería.
Legitimate mining enterprises are threatened by illegal mining operations, according to Carlos Mendoza, director of Strategic Projects Consultancy, a private security company in Mexico City.
Illegal mining by organized crime and terrorist groups “is serious, affects many areas, and has many dimensions that must be addressed, such as the expansion of illegal mining activities, forced labor, the uncontrolled use of substances hazardous to health, and environmental impacts,” Mendoza said.
“Organized crime, drug trafficking, and (anti-government insurgent) groups have been identified in the extraction, sale and export of minerals, an economic niche that gives them an immediate economic return,” Mendoza said.
Illegal mining exacts a huge financial toll on legitimate, legal mining operations. For example, in Colombia, about 90 percent of the gold mined annually is extracted by illegal mining enterprises.
Criminal groups are negatively impacting Perú’s gold trade. Perú is the largest gold producer in Latin America. Criminal syndicates produce about 15 percent of the country’s gold each year – an amount worth about $3 billion (USD), according to the report “Forced labor and human trafficking in illegal gold mining in Perú,” which was produced by Verité, an international human rights group.
Illegal mining operations are important sources of revenue for organized crime groups. For example, in Perú, organized crime groups directly employ about 100,000 people in illegal mining enterprises, according to Mendoza.
In 2013, criminal syndicates carried out illegal mining operations in 21 of Perú’s 25 regions, according to published reports.
Organized crime groups and terrorist organizations are making fast and large profits by exploiting natural resources to fuel their illicit activities, threatening the stability and future development of the planet, said Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin, at a press conference on June 24 in Nairobi.
Louboutin spoke to journalists after officials presented the report “The Environmental Crime Crisis.” The report was produced by the United Nations and Interpol.
Knights Templar engage in illegal mining in México
International drug cartels are among the groups which engage in the illegal extraction and sale of gold, silver, iron and other materials.
For example, on June 11, Mexican security forces at the ports of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, Manzanillo and Colima seized five ships carrying more than 339,000 tons of iron ore. The iron ore was allegedly being smuggled by the Knights Templar, a Mexican transnational criminal organization, Univision reported on June 12. The iron ore was worth about $70 million (USD).
From late 2013 to mid-June 2014, Mexican security forces seized 720,000 tons of iron ore, which was headed to China.
In recent years, the Knights Templar has increased its illegal mining operations. The criminal syndicate runs some of its own illegal mines, and also uses force and intimidation to take gold, silver, iron ore, and other materials from legitimate mining companies.
The drug trafficking groups Los Urabeños, Los Rastrojos, and the Sinaloa Cartel are among the transnational criminal organizations which engage in illegal mining in one or more of the four Pacific Alliance countries.
The Mexican government is also taking steps to fight illegal mining. Mexican authorities have pledged to inspect each of the 1,252 mines in the country.
Illegal mining causes environmental damage
Illegal mining operations are causing different kinds of environmental damage.
For example, in Colombia, illegal gold miners use large amounts of water, as much as 250,000 liters of water during the extracting process, according to coha.org. This depletes ground water reserves and lowers the supply of water for the civilian population.
Insufficient levels of ground water can harm nutrients in soil, which causes damage to the ecosystem. Some illegal miners use sodium cyanide while extracting gold and minerals. This substance is toxic and can contaminate the drinking water of the civilian population.
Military Forces in Perú fight illegal mining
Security forces in Pacific Alliance countries are fighting back against criminal syndicates to combat illegal mining operations.
For example, on June 10, the National Police and the Armed Forces of Perú destroyed 114 machines which were being used by criminal groups in illegal mining operations in the Madre de Dios region, in the eastern part of the country, according to a press release from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
About 1,000 police and military personnel, 18 special prosecutors took part in the operation. Security forces used several helicopters to reach remote areas where criminal groups were engaging in illegal mining.
Cooperation between security forces from Pacific Alliance countries is producing “constant and effective work against organized crime syndicates,” the security analyst said.
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CHILE, COLOMBIA, PERU, MEXICO HAVE TO HELP US ACHIEVE THIS BY SHOWING A BROADER ATTITUDE. The news item Excellent job to be able to fight against all illegal work. It is very good There should be more news I liked it a lot