Gold Mining: Turning the Amazon into a Wasteland

In three short years, our increased demand for gold due to economic fears, has destroyed over 50,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest.

Gold Mining in Amazon Rainforest Increases Drastically

The area of greatest impact from gold mining is in the Madre de Dios region of southeastern Perú. In addition to the legal gold mining approved by Perú’s Ministry of Mining, there are thousands of smaller illegal operations contributing to the destruction and contamination of the low-lying Madre de Dios rainforest.

Gúido Lombardi, a popular Peruvian journalist of RPP News, recently shared aerial footage shot by Carnegie Aerial Observatory with his television audience as they flew over vast sections of destroyed rainforest:

I’ve translated Gúido’s words for our English audience.

Voices: Gúido Lombardi & Ricardo of RPP News | Translated by: Rick Pickett

Guído Lombardi: “We are sharing with our listeners aerial footage over the zones in Madre de Dios impacted by the effects of legal gold mining.

We have seen footage on television and in the newspapers documenting the damage from the legal mining.”

Ricardo: “Is this the worst of the footage that we are seeing now?”

GL: “No, it’s worse. This is only a small portion of the 30,000 hectares of mines which have occurred in only the last three years.”

R: “Three years? No more?”

GL: “Only in the last three years, Ricardo. It’s impossible to communicate to you the amount of deforestation occurring. It’s true devastation. It’s as if you placed a desert in the middle of the Amazon.”

R: “It’s not only occurring here, but also in Venezuela.”

GL: “Yes, in Venezuela also. It’s amazing that there are zones where mud from the mining is spreading into the forests and killing the trees in place. The forest is completely dying and suffocating for this product [gold].

We need to have the mining ministry challenge the extraction of gold, not only for the social impacts, the biodiversity, or the natural riches, but because the Amazon rainforests are the world’s lungs. We need to have alliances, and strategic supports to change course. It’s not just the poor that need help and redirection, but also the global capitalists and elites that are driving the demand for this product.”

Extractive industries such as gold, petroleum, and timber exact an incredible toll on communities, biodiversity, and, ultimately, our world at large.

Ultimately, we must face the reality that our consumptive habits are the real driver of gold mining and other causes of rainforest destruction. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Worldwide, and especially true in the United States, we must reduce our consumption to reduce our generational impact on our living systems on which we depend. For each purchase, we need to ask ourselves whether we really need it and what is the true cost, that price not being measured simply in dollars but in the lifeblood of ecosystems and future of peoples who depend on these healthy environments for basic necessities such as clean water.

Despite a prevailing mindset, our world is not made of infinite resources. The Earth is a finite speck of space dust that requires our thoughtful, compassionate, and loving participation and stewardship. Reducing consumption will not diminish happiness. The notion that comfort comes from consuming more is a deceit sold by people who directly profit from consumerism. The greatest happiness and satisfaction comes from the world around us and those within it.

Please share this post and video with your social networks to raise awareness regarding our modern gold rush and its devastating consequences on Earth’s largest rainforest.

More Reading on the Devastating Effects of Gold Mining in Amazon Rainforests has a great report regarding the impact of gold mining in Amazon rainforests.

Smithsonian Magazine article on Devastating Effects of Amazon Gold Rush

Effects of Amazon Mining by WWF


Thankfully, some metalsmiths and jewelers source recycled gold for their creations. You can find out more information on Ethical Metal Smiths.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.