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Rare photographs by Nasa reveal extent of gold mining in Peru

Published by Sten Senkel in category News on 08.03.2021
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The “rivers of gold” captured in the images are pits believed to have been dug by unlicensed miners, the space agency says.
The pits, usually hidden from view, were illuminated by reflected sunlight.
An astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) captured the unusual photographs in December.
The country is a leading exporter of gold, and Madre de Dios is home to a hugely unregulated industry with thousands of miners trying to make a living.
The area is a biodiversity hotspot, and the extractive industry has led to extensive deforestation and the destruction of vital habitats.

The mining is also poisoning local communities as tonnes of mercury extract the prized commodity, and scientists say a significant amount is released into rivers or the atmosphere.

The pits where miners are searching for gold appear as hundreds of basins filled with water, surrounded by mud where vegetation has been removed, Nasa explains.
Miners follow the routes of old rivers where sediments, including minerals, were deposited.
In parts of the region, which is home to species including monkeys, jaguars, and butterflies, scientists believe that mining is the lead cause of deforestation.

In January 2019, a study found that gold mining deforestation destroyed an estimated 22,930 acres of Peru’s Amazon in 2018, according to the group Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project.
Buoyed by the rising price of gold, people from local communities that are often deprived see an opportunity to make a living from mining.
In 2012, an estimated 30,000 small-scale miners were working in the lush region.

Gold price (XAU-HUF)
742 633 HUF/oz
  
+ 3 845 HUF
Silver price (XAG-HUF)
8 233 HUF/oz
  
+ 76 HUF

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