Peru’s military force is closing in on illegal gold miners in an effort to stop illegal mining activity in the Amazon rainforest. The efforts include searching for mining equipment and destroying them. This is after illegal mining activities have transformed the once lush forest into a barren desert littered with toxic pools and dead trees.
The operation, which was named “Operation Mercury”, started back in February when authorities have expelled illegal gold miners on the Tambopata province. The operation also involved the deployment of hundreds of police force, deploying them in the same quarters which were previously used by gold dealers.
These deployed men were instructed to regularly patrol mining areas in vehicles. However, there were some miners who go to work during night time, and concerns regarding them simply relocating to other areas have been sprouting.
Jimena Diaz Leiva, a student at UC Berkeley, stated that such operation only prompted miners to go deeper into the rainforest in an attempt to avoid being caught, a statement which he said was from the miners themselves.
Due to the global increase in gold prices, illegal gold mining ended up destroying more than 90,000 square miles of green forests in just a span of 15 years from 2000 to 2015. This is what the Amazonian Network of GeoReferenced Socia-Environmental Information has reported after the data they have gathered from the Amazon.
Additionally, illegal mining uses tons of mercury which is yet another concern as it can lead to various health issues.
Biology professor of Lima, Ernesto Raez, stated that such illegal mining activities really did induce a devastating effect in the environment. He added that it will take several generations to completely restore those affected areas, especially the forests.
As of now, the Peruvian force is doing their best to catch these illegal miners. However, there’s no guarantee that illegal gold mining will cease to continue.