Police Destroy Illegal Gold Mining Equipment

Peruvian police have launched an operation that has resulted in the destruction of equipment used in illegal gold mining in the south-eastern region of Madre de Dios, daily Peru.21 reported.

More than 120 officers took part in the operation that destroyed 24 motors and five electric generators, the daily said. Each motor had a value of between 40,000  and 50,000 soles ($15,000 – $19,000).

Police also arrested four people during the operation.

“We call on illegal miners to take the step to legalization,” said Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza. “Work is a necessity, but they can do their activity within the regulations of our country.”

Illegal and informal mining operations are found throughout Peru, but the largest number is in the jungle region of Madre de Dios, including the buffer zone of a wildlife reserve. The activity has become a major social and environmental concern. Some economists estimate that it generates more revenue than the cocaine trade.

Tens of thousands of informal miners are estimated to be extracting placer gold in Madre de Dios, causing widespread deforestation and heavily polluting local waterways in one of the world’s most bio-diverse areas.

Authorities say that prostitution, including child prostitution, and human trafficking are prevalent in illegal mining camps.

Efforts by the government to control illegal mining in Madre de Dios have been met by stiff opposition leading to deadly protests.   In May 2011, a military and police operation destroyed three industrial-sized gold dredges on the Marañon River near Yurimaguas, further north, and in November the same year further operations destroyed more than 130 dredges along several rivers in the Madre de Dios area.

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