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Stop Illegal Mining

Mining for gold might conjure up quaint images of rolled up pants, a sieve and soothing sound of the river. But in the Amazon, miners are more likely to be waist deep in polluted water laced with poisonous chemicals.

In fact, mining the gold for just one wedding ring can damage a river forever, as mercury and cyanide are released into the river along with twenty tons of sediment produced by blasting the riverbank.

In Peru, much of the rainforest being mined illegally killing all the forest all around it. Today,  20% or more of the gold coming from Peru is illegally mined.

the path of mining

Chemicals released

Mercury, Cyanide, Arsenic, Sulfuric Acid, Nitric Acid, Zinc, Ammonium Nitrate, Acetylene, and Xanthate

In the rainforest mining means detonating explosives on riverbanks and digging deep craters in areas cleared of forest. After a pit has been created, miners use pressurized water to wash away debris and drain the area.

Miners then use mercury and other dangerous chemicals to help separate the gold from the silt. The gold and mercury bind in an amalgam making the gold easier to extract. Yet much of the mercury remains in the water and returns to river.

Local government officials are often complicit, turning a blind eye to illegal and dangerous mining practices, unregistered mining concessions, and illegal mining on State and indigenous land.

Did you know that more than 50% of the world’s gold comes from Indigenous lands?
Today, Indigenous communities are using drones to guard their territories and rapidly identify attempts to mine before they get underway.

Amazon rainforest after mining for gold

Amazon rainforest prior to mining

effects of illegal mining

  • Gold mining irreversibly poisons watersheds.
  • Acid Mining Drainage: explosions expose new rocks to oxygen & water the rocks leach acid, lead and other toxic elements into the river.
  • Toxic chemicals are released into the water killing wildlife & endangering people.
  • Increased sediments in rivers makes the water more mosquito and disease prone.

effects of illegal mining

  • Peru’s informal miners release 30 tons of mercury into the waterways.
  • Mining operations hire children–many of them from displaced indigenous communities with few alternatives.
  • Mining increases the mercury load in those living close by. Communities in Madre de Dios, Peru have 5x the safe level of mercury in their bodies!
  • Mercury poisoning causes developmental delays, turns people blind, & kills even healthy individuals.

effects of illegal mining

  • Trees are cut to make way for roads, mining camps, & mining sites.
  • Miners frequently can’t survive on their salaries & turn to illegal logging to supplement their income.
  • Roads are created to transport the gold, creating an easy way to access previously pristine rainforest.
  • Illegal miners go deeper into the forest to hide, spreading deforestation & toxic chemicals throughout rainforest.

ready to change this picture

1  Take the No Dirty Gold Pledge

2  Become a Rainforest Defender

3  Find other Ways to Make a Difference

  Just $5 saves an acre of Rainforest!

Take Action