Hunger for gold means the Amazon has reached ‘tipping point’ of mercury contamination from illegal mining – by Maya Fernandez (CBC News World – December 28, 2023)

Illegal gold mining in the Amazon has intensified, with one expert calling it a ‘transnational crime’

The rising value of gold worldwide has amplified illegal mining in the Amazon, where liquid mercury is being dumped in the Amazon River and causing scientists to warn that Indigenous communities and the environment could pay a far greater price.

Three weeks ago, Colombia, Brazil and the United States partnered up to destroy 19 illegal gold mining dredges in the Amazon Rainforest. According to Reuters, the dredges were producing about $1.9 million Cdn in gold.

The dredges scoop mud from riverbeds and miners mix in liquid mercury, which causes gold particles to stick together, making them easier to find. Authorities involved in the operation said it targeted the Familia del Norte criminal group, which they said was dumping 114,000 grams of mercury into the water every month while mining gold.

The partnership between countries to destroy the dredges is the first of its kind in the area — but it’s only made a dent in the overall problem. Considering these mining methods are cheap and extremely profitable, experts suggest the cost of one dredge can be made up within a week.

For the rest of this article: