These videos take you step-by-step through the destructive process of illegal gold mining in the Amazon rainforest.
Illegal mining in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest is having a severe impact on the environment. According to Juan José Córdova, leader of the energy sector at KPMG Peru, “it is estimated that 30 to 40 [metric] tons of mercury are dumped into the environment annually and burned off after amalgamation- generally without even using rudimentary technology to protect workers’ health or capture waste or fumes.”
Last Thursday, the United Nations launched a groundbreaking treaty—the Minamata Convention—designed to limit mercury pollution internationally. The treaty was signed by delegates of 140 nations after four years of negotiations, and will regulate the use of mercury in certain products and industrial processes.
Luis E. Fernandez is a research ecologist at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, and is the director of the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project (CAMEP), a multi-institution research initiative that examines the impacts of artisanal gold mining, mercury contamination and deforestation on natural and human ecosystems in the Peruvian Amazon. His research focuses improving understanding of the global mercury cycle, particularly emissions from the artisanal gold mining sector, and its regional and global effects on forests, ecosystems and human populations.
He’s also the newest member of the Amazon Aid Foundation’s board! Below, check out the translation of a recent interview about his work and the effects of illegal gold mining in the Amazon with Vanessa Verau, the former Peruvian Vice Minister of the Environment, which originally appeared in El Comercio.