Gold rush in Peru
July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
Gold is a source of much wealth and conflicts in Peru. Gold price hikes in the last decade has fueled the gold rush, where illegal mining is the norm in regions such as Madre de Dios. The biggest current mining project, called Conga, set out by the North American company Newmont Mining Co has unleashed a war in the region of Cajamarca because of the fierce opposition of environmental groups and indigenous peoples.
Thousand of locals for the district of Bambamarca marching in protest against the Conga mining project, in Peru. Source: http://www.elpais.com
The illegal or informal mining has devastated tens of thousands of hectares and has change the landscape of Madre de Dios. This is the fourth largest region in Peru, with the lowest population density – only 1,3 habitants/km2 – and 54% of its territory is protected area. It has 5 indigenous groups and 32 local communities living there, with a number of them being uncontacted.
Around 40,000 people originally from the Andean Peruvian regions and countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Russia, China and Korea, are directly employed in mining activities in Madre de Dios. The number reaches half a million throughout the whole country.
The working conditions of the miners are very harsh: they work in shifts of 24 hours and rest only 12, in difficult conditions without a contract or any social security, in areas without access to clean water, leaving them weakened by respiratory problems, diarrhoeal and skin diseases. And all this for a stunning salary (by ‘Peruvian standards’). Within a week a miner earns around 7,000 Peruvian Nuevos Soles (£1,700) while the average wage in Peru is 2,000 Peruvian Nuevos Soles per month (£490).
“The illegal or informal mining does nothing for the people and just costs our government money”, says a local doctor. According to the National Institute for Research in the Peruvian Amazon and the Ministry of the Environment, if miners in Madre de Dios paid taxes, the region would receive around 50 million Peruvian Nuevos Soles (£12,2 M) to invest in public services.
In view of the increasing number of conflicts and the state of illegal mining in Madre de Dios, the Government has decided to put things in order and regularise the situation of illegal miners by issuing a decree that banishes mining activities in the floodplains of rivers.
However at Bloomtrigger we believe these measures are not enough to ensure the protection of the ecosystems and traditional activities of local communities and indigenous. This is why we want to share with you today this avaaz petition to stop the Conga mining project in the region of Cajamarca and also ask you, if you have not done already, to sign up with the bloomtrigger project, buy some blooms and help to protect rainforest in Manu – one of the four provinces in the Madre de Dios Region in Peru.