Venezuela Fuels Amazon Gold Rush With Petrodollars Drying Up – by Fabiola Zerpa (Bloomberg News – August 31, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — U.S. sanctions and a collapsing oil industry are prompting Venezuela to step up its push into gold mining, including in protected areas of the Amazon.

The amount of land used for mining has more than tripled since March last year, according to a study by local non-profit Wataniba. Activity is poised to accelerate further after the authorization in April of new lots in five rivers.

Venezuela already has a thriving illegal gold industry that devastates waterways, forests and indigenous communities and funds violent armed groups.

Now authorities are helping supply equipment to set up more formal operations that process gold via a new state facility and sell the metal to the government, said people with knowledge of the matter.

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