Until recently, the state of Madre de Dios at the base of the Andes in Peru was one of the most pristine and diverse regions in the world. New, illegal gold mining operations however are changing that. Impoverished miners first tear down massive trees, some hundreds of years old, displacing birds and other animals. They then use massive gasoline pumps to siphon river water and waterblast the rain forest floor. Once holes have been created, miners climb down and tear away at walls with water jets in search of gold flakes. During the gold extraction process, mercury is used, and then washed into river and streams, ultimately affecting the food chain. It has been reported that over 64,000 acres have been affected. Once a hole has been created, miners burn away more forest to continue digging.
Written By: Bryan Fusfield
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