A recent report by USAID revealed that over 46,000 artisanal miners are extracting minerals illegally in Madre de Dios, located in southeastern Peru’s Amazon Basin, bordering Brazil and Bolivia. Of those, over 9,000 conduct their activities in protected areas.
Overall, it is estimated that as of 2017, illegal gold mining in the region has been responsible for the deforestation of more than 100,000 hectares of the Peruvian Amazon.
In the recent operation, police agents found and destroyed rafts, hoppers and engines commonly employed to extract gold using techniques that are harmful to the environment.
Following the operation, hundreds of people likely to be engaged in illegal mining held protests on the Interoceanic Highway and attacked the police base located in the community of Nuevo Arequipa. As a result of these incidents, one person died and eight demonstrators were arrested.
A few days after these events, the National Police Command sent 45 troops from Lima’s Directorate of Special Operations. Another, 20 law enforcement officers from Arequipa arrived at each police facility located at kilometres 98 and 117 of the Interoceanic highway.
In this regard, the director of the Environment Directorate, Colonel Luis Guillén Polo, said that, despite the resistance from illegal miners, the authorities will continue to work and carry out joint operations against the unregulated exploitation of Madre de Dios’ natural resources.