This week for throwback Thursday (#TBT) we’re looking at gold mining in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. If this sounds familiar, then bonus skytruther points for you because we did in fact write about this region last fall. A recent crackdown on illegal mining inspired us to give this region another look, and show you what it looks like through the lens of the Google Timelapse. What you’ll see in this part of the Amazon is rapid mine development over the years and sediment-laden runoff from the mines and deforested landscape infiltrating surrounding waterways. Feel free to zoom in and do some exploring of your own.
On April 19th the Peruvian government took action against illegal mining in this region and halted the shipment of gasoline to the Madre de Dios area. Troops were also sent to destroy any heavy machinery that could have been associated with illegal mining activity (if the miners in the region really look like their statue in the Huepetuhe town square, those must have been some seriously strong troops). In the wake of the government’s intervention the region has gone bust and the mayor of Huepetuhe estimates that approximately 22,000 people have left town, leaving only 3,000 in a serious state of transition.
Over the years, small-scale ‘wildcat’ mining reached staggering proportions in the region, causing obvious damage to one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. Deforestation, mercury contamination and sediment-laden runoff are just a few of the major concerns facing this environment.