Amazon Gold Rush Destroying Peruvian Rain Forest
Posted by shadmia on June 12, 2011
A gold rush that accelerated with the onset of the 2008 global recession is compounding the woes of the Amazon basin, laying waste to Peruvian rain forest and spilling tons of toxic mercury into the air and water. An army of small-scale miners in the state of Madre de Dios has swelled to some 40,000.
“Extracting an ounce of gold costs from $400 to $500 and the profit is $1,000 per ounce,” notes Peru’s environment minister, Antonio Brack. In just a decade, gold has more than tripled in value.
Government controls are mostly futile.
“We found that nearly all the public officials in Puerto Maldonado were involved,” the minister said. “In 2010, the regional mining director had a mining company. His No. 2 had one. His wife had one. His sister had one (as did) the sister of the No. 2. They were all in it. And you think anyone is going to regulate anything?”
The entire article on the situation can be found here. It is worthwhile reading.
This is a tragedy just waiting to unfold. I can understand the need to make a living and support a family (most of us go through this every day) and want a better future, but at what cost to your own personal health and the environment.
These workers are suffering a slow death. The environment is being destroyed and the authorities are at least turning a blind eye to the situation and at worst profiting from it. There was also a brief mention of possibly indigenous and uncontacted tribes living nearby. Are their habitats and life style also being adversely affected?
I know it is easy to sit in an comfortable chair with a computer in hand and judge people and their actions thousands of miles away but maybe if the demand (and price) for gold wasn’t so high then there would be less incentive to engage in practices detrimental to human health and the environment.
Just something to think about the next time we are in a jewelry store marveling at how nice that necklace, chain or ring would compliment our evening attire. We are as much to blame as anyone else.