We would all think that the gold fever is a thing of the past, but as we know, history has the tendency of repeating itself. It seems like this time the miners of Peru have been hit by this ‘disease’ because of the rising price of gold. Massive deforestation is going on around certain parts of the Amazon in the south-eastern region of the country.
Mercury is known to be used for the extraction of precious metals, and now this dangerous substance is flowing into the rivers and oceans. Although at the moment it might help to get the miners the fortune that they are seeking, it also has long-lasting effects especially in case of the marine life that is already endangered.
In case of the Madre de Dios region there have been people looking for gold since the time of the Incas. In the last period of time there have been more and more amateur miners arriving to the region.
This represents a major threat to the ecosystem that is already considered to be fragile.
The impact of the gold miners on the region has been measured through the use of satellite images of the region provided by NASA and also economic data.
It is true that there is gold accumulated in thick gravel and sand bands around the banks of the rivers, and this is the place to find the miners too. In order to get their hands on the gold, the miners are blasting away the river banks.
Between 2003 and 2009 there have been about 15,000 acres of forest cleared out. In the last three years the speed of destruction has increased and it is clear that there is a strong connection to the price of gold that has risen considerably in the last period of time.
As a conclusion, the most dreadful threats of the Peruvian gold rush are deforestation and mercury pollution. The people working with this substance know very little about the impact that they have on the environment and also on their own health. Mercury poisoning has effects on the nervous system and also on the development of human brain.
The majority of mercury used for this purpose is imported to Peru, and in case the import would be restricted, there would be no way for the poor miners to go on looking for gold and extracting it in this manner, thus putting an end to pollution.