NASA shows the “rivers of gold” in the Amazon seen from space: a shocking image of illegal mining
From space, they look like rivers of gold. But every one of those sparkling pools is an illegal well fruit of illegal mining produced in the Peruvian state Madre de Dios, in the Amazon. The image has been published by NASA, after being carried out by an astronaut from the International Space Station (ISS) during last December.
These golden threads are the hundreds of wells surrounded by swampy deforested areas. They are usually hidden from view, but the light of that day made it possible to capture them and show the profound impact that mining has on the Amazon.
From the International Space Station you can see all the damage.
“Each well is surrounded by areas without vegetation of muddy soil. These deforested extensions follow the course of ancient rivers that deposited sediments, including gold “, Explain Justin Wilkinson, an excavation specialist at Texas State University.
In 2012, there were an estimated 30,000 illegal miners working in the region. During many years, the gold rush has caused massive deforestation, with more than 9,000 hectares a year, according to the group of Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project.
The Madre de Dios region has the dubious honor of possessing the world’s largest illegal mining industryAccording to NASA, although Peru is the sixth largest exporter. In 2019, in another region of Peru, in the The Pampa, mining also seriously affected until in 2019 the government expelled more than 5,000 miners.
Gold is a difficult market to regulate and gold gathering requires little technical knowledge. According to him report Organized Crime and Illegal Gold Mining in Latin America, illegal exports represent 28% of the gold extracted and it is estimated that they move a total of $ 2.6 billion a year.
Environmental groups in the area have denounced that this illegal mining is also causing tons of mercury to end up poisoning local communities. A irreversible damage that affects not only the trees of the nature reserve, but also dozens of species such as primates and jaguars.
Among the rivers of gold is the small city of Nueva Arequipa, next to the South Interoceanic Highway, the only road connection between Brazil and Peru whose initial objective was to stimulate trade but has ended up favoring deforestation. Only to the east, the Tambopata National Park remains safeIt is a protected reserve from mining. All around it, the gold rush has damaged the area to levels that are perfectly visible, even from the Space Station.