WS15 Behind the Dirty Gold – Illegal mining in the Amazon basin 

 

· Workshop Organisers: IUCN the Netherlands – Peruvian Society for Environmental Law

· Workshop Chair: Lenin Valencia Arroyo

· Date and Time: Tuesday, 17h20 – 18h45

· Room: A Forum

· Description: 

This session is a combination of documentary film screening + debate with the audience. 

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the sustained increase in the international demand for gold has transformed the global conditions of exploitation and trade of this precious metal. This has generated not only a rise in the volumes but also in the upturn of the extraction and trading methods which evade environmental, social, and fiscal regulations in the countries of origin. These changes have brought with them the development of new links with organized crime issues such as drug trafficking, which puts communities and populations at risk, especially rural communities traditionally dependent of a combination of activities like agriculture, forestry, and even small-scale mining.

Particularly, the market forces have reached and had an impact on several continental tropical forests in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, generating disturbing social and environmental impacts on ecosystems known precisely because they harbor indigenous peoples with various degrees of isolation, and some of the most important biodiversity in the planet. A major part of the gold informally or illegally mined ends up in European, Asian and North American markets and financial centres, through routes and exchange mechanisms which hinder its traceability and the very capacities of the formal trading systems to determine the illicit origins of the gold.

The social and environmental consequences on the Amazon basin are devastating. Just in Peru more than 50 thousand hectares of tropical forest have been deforested due to gold mining activities. Trafficking, mercury pollution and corruption are just some of the consequences of this phenomenon and are threatening the governance of countries affected by it. Since the last decade goverments of Brasil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia have implemented policies aimed at formalizing small scale mining activities and combating illegal mining activities.

Global demand for gold and other minerals post a challenge and opportunity for circular economies. How do final consumers and companies trading precious minerals deal with traceability of minerals illegally extracted? What policies are national goverments of Peru, Brasil Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia implementing to deal with informal and illegal mining in the Amazon basin? Where the gold illegally extracted goes and how it use formal or legal channels?

This workshop address some of the challenges circular economies face in dealing with illegal mining activities developed within ecologically relevant biomas like the Amazon basin.