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The environmental impact of illegal mining in Latin America

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Earth.Org or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Illegal mining in Latin America has become a lucrative enterprise for criminal organizations, surpassing drug trafficking in profitability
• Gold, easier to launder and with lower risks, is now referred to as the "new cocaine"  
• Criminal groups exploit the gold rush, causing massive environmental damage across the region.

🔭 The context: Driven by soaring gold prices, criminal groups have shifted from traditional illegal trades like drugs and arms to mining
• INTERPOL and UNEP estimate that illegal mining generates up to $48 billion annually
• The industry's expansion is tied to significant environmental degradation, posing unique challenges due to its remote and difficult-to-police nature.

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Illegal mining drives deforestation, contaminates ecosystems with mercury, and devastates indigenous lands, posing a grave threat to biodiversity and public health 
• The practice significantly alters landscapes and ecosystems, with irreversible impacts on forest cover and water bodies

⏭️ What's next: Efforts to combat illegal mining are intensifying, with countries like Brazil under President Lula taking decisive action to evict illegal miners and restore damaged ecosystems 
• International cooperation and stricter enforcement are crucial to curb this illicit activity and its expansive environmental damage

💬 One quote: "Illegal gold mining is by far the most insidious and widespread environmental crime in the tri-border Amazon regions," - InSight Crime.

📈 One stat: Each kilogram of illegally mined gold causes approximately R$1.7 million (US$325,000) in environmental damage in Brazil.

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