The Peruvian government is to target plants that process illegally-mined gold as a way of tackling the illicit activity, according to Environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
Pulgar-Vidal said the government will take on “the illegal mining mafia” by controlling the processing plants, daily Gestion reported.
The oversight of these plants — small and compact concentrators located throughout Peru, including Nazca in Ica, Chala in Arequipa and Pataz in La Libertad— are currently under the control of regional governments because of the amount of mineral that they process.
Small-scale mines are the responsibility of regional governments, while medium and large-scale mines fall under the national government. Regional governments received the responsibility as part of a broader process of decentralization in the country. These administrations, however, have lacked the resources to tackle the issue.
“These are defects that have shown up in the process of decentralization,” Pulgar-Vidal said, adding that he wants the national government to have oversight over the processing plants. “We have to remove these processing plants from the small-scale mining regime.”
Illegal mining moves billions of dollars a year in profits, according to estimates from private-sector economists. It has caused serious environmental damage, especially in parts of the Amazon rainforest, as well as serious social problems and corruption.
The government has often faced violent protests by the miners when they try to bring the activity under control.