Excellent report on Peru’s rapacious goldfields

While I was out, the Financial Times covered the ongoing disaster of gold mining in Peru’s Madre de Dios region.

Rogues and plunderers have been drawn to Peru’s Amazon for centuries by the legend of Paititi, the Inca’s lost city of gold.

But the jungles that border Brazil and Bolivia have never faced a threat of the magnitude that sky-high gold prices, improved infrastructure and weak state regulation and law enforcement are posing today…

Production fell briefly after the decree and violent protests by thousands of informal miners across Peru that left six people dead. But the amount of gold coming out of Madre de Dios has rebounded steadily ever since; it now supplies almost a fifth of all gold from Peru, the world’s sixth biggest producer.

Mr Aguirre says these official figures vastly understate the amount of ore being pulled out of the jungle, however…

Meanwhile, Survival International and the BBC get incredible aerial footage of one of the last uncontacted indigenous tribes in the Amazon. The people live in Brazil, but according to this report, they are being pestered by uncontacted tribespeople from Peru, who are fleeing logging.

WordPress, being lame, won’t let me embed the video, so just click here to see it. It’s awesome.

And no, your guitar won’t sound that much better with Peruvian rain forest wood than with a nice slab of maple.

Not exactly cheery stuff, but very much worth a read as this is where the gold supply comes from to fill the vaults in London and Zurich. Know your food chain.

6 thoughts on “Excellent report on Peru’s rapacious goldfields

  1. westslope

    That is a stupendous video. Cracis che. I like the modest ecological footprint of our discovered undiscovereds. The territorial charge by one of the shaman lends to the authenticity of the tape.


    Brazil was once upon a time internationally embarrassed by settler-ranchers who machine-gunned aboriginals from light planes over the Matto Grosso. Since then, Brazil’s overall treatment and management of aboriginals has improved tremendously.

    Why do I get the impression that Péru is lagging far behind and the Peruvian state has relatively little control over many isolated regions in both the Andes and the Amazon basin? Presumably the Peruvian elites recognize that negative publicity on this dossier could jeopardize foreign direct investment and capital flows in general.

    Note that the good folks in democratic and stable Botswana have a hard time understanding “people parks” for the Bushmen who would rather live off the land and be healthy than sit in town and self-medicate. Do isolated tribes embarrass Peruanos? Does it make them feel more primitive?

    1. sapitosetty Post author

      Do isolated tribes embarrass Peruanos? Does it make them feel more primitive?

      Smart question. I don’t know Peru, but that’s certainly the case in Chile. This country’s oligarchs have no interest in being reminded of their indigenous roots, and have done everything possible to destroy indigenous cultures.

  2. NicaCat

    So, supposedly when these photos first showed up, a couple of years ago, the Peruvian gov’t (aka Alan Garcia), virtually denied that this “uncontacted tribe” existed, that it was a hoax. I remember when it was in the news. What’s the difference today? I sure hope that the Peruvian government, in light of this global awareness, will value what this discovery means in terms of humanity, instead of giving way to oil and lumber (even if the lumber is illegal).

  3. Gringo

    When I was on a five day hiking trek in a very thinly unpopulated section of the Andes -Olleros to Chavin IIRC- a campesino invited me to spend the night in his stone hut. He asked me what the price of gold was, as some entrepreneur was purchasing gold he and others had culled from the streams. He was being paid about half of the going gold rate. At the time, I thought that a ripoff, but now see that as not so unfair, retail being about 60% of wholesale et al. That assumes he was being assessed the proper weight.

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