Peruvian Armed Forces Destroy 75 Dredges Used in Informal Mining
By Dialogo November 09, 2011
The Peruvian Armed Forces destroyed 75 illegal dredges belonging to informal gold miners who pollute the rivers of the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios (in southeastern Peru), on the border with Brazil and Bolivia, the Minister of Defense, Daniel Mora, announced.
“This military operation has the objective of eradicating informal mining, which is doing so much damage to the environment in Madre de Dios,” the minister told the press.
In the operation, which began on November 5 and will last 30 days, 1,500 Soldiers, helicopters, and speedboats are being used with the aim of surprising the illegal miners, he added.
“The destroyed dredges were illegally installed on the Inambari, Madre de Dios, Tambopata, and Malinowski rivers (near the Brazilian border),” according to a statement by the Defense Ministry.
For his part, Vice Admiral Carlos Tejada Mera, in charge of the military operation, explained that the chief objective is the destruction of dredges and other illegal devices in river areas where mining takes place, in addition to taking control of illegal mining along the rivers.
The Environment Ministry has reported that the gold economy in Madre de Dios, one of Peru’s poorest regions, generates around US $800 million dollars a year from the 18 tons extracted by informal miners, he added.
Gold fever in Madre de Dios has affected the ecosystem of the Amazonian region, leaving behind, in addition to rivers polluted by mercury, craters dug by human activity, mountains of dirt where there was previously forest, and trees buried under mine tailings.
The authorities estimate that informal mining has led to the destruction of 20,000 hectares of Peruvian tropical forest.
Peru is the world’s fifth-ranking producer of gold with 182 tons a year and accounts for 40 percent of Latin American production.