Peru installs military bases to protect the Amazon from illegal mining

After, the same area in 2018
After, the same area in 2018 Copyright Contains modified Copernicus data [2016] processed by euronews with EO Browser
Copyright Contains modified Copernicus data [2016] processed by euronews with EO Browser
By Rafael Cereceda
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The South American nation has declared war on the illegal mining that has devastated large areas of the Amazon region.


Peru has declared war on illegal mining which is devastating large swathes of the Amazon region of Madre de Dios. The authorities have opened the first of four military bases that they want to create in La Pampa, the zone that has been most damaged by the mining operations.

Where before there was tropical forest, is now a terrain devoid of vegetation due to the deforestation and the use of mercury in the process of extracting gold.

Ministers attended the inauguration of the base, which will house 100 military personnel and 50 police.

"The government has taken the political decision to be present in this region to eradicate illegal mining," said Defence Minister Jose Huerta who was present at the opening of the base.

"We've come and we'll stay as long as is necessary," he added.

This move is part of the so-called Operation Mercury, which aims to combat the criminal groups doing the illegal mining, but also to reforest the region.

'Cities' of the illegal mining, prostitution, mafias and mercury trafficking

The base has been installed in an old mining camp where around 350 people lived before the military moved in, and had shops, a casino and a brothel.

The authorities say there are around 6,000 illegal miners in the La Pampa area. The activity brings with it mercury trafficking, prostitution and fighting amongst criminal groups.

Peru is the biggest gold producer in Latin America, and the sixth biggest in the world, but it is estimated around 25% of Peru's output comes from illegal mining.

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