Peru Government sets four month period to regularise illegal miners

24 April 2014 (Last Updated April 24th, 2014 18:30)

The Peruvian Government has started regulating gold miners to prevent environmental pollution and loss of revenues, and has set a four month period to process miners' legal status.

The Peruvian Government has started regulating gold miners to prevent environmental pollution and loss of revenues, and has set a four month period to process miners' legal status.

Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying that the government will take four months from 19 April to sort through the applications and to reject miners who do not meet official standards, such as those who are mining in prohibited areas.

"The formalisation process is under way, and no one can deny that we have made advances more than any government in the past," Pulgar-Vidal said.

"The government has identified money laundering tied to illegal mining in excess of $1.5bn." 

The Peruvian Government initiated the process to formalise the illegal miners in July 2011, and launched a second programme to incorporate illegal miners into the system by April this year.

According to President Ollanta Humala, illegal mining has destroyed a large portion of the Amazon rainforest and caused mercury contamination.

Minister of Energy and Mines Jorge Merino was quoted by mining.com as saying that Peru has reached a point of no return in the fight against the fly-by-night activity.

Pulgar-Vidal said the administration of Humala has already shut down illegally operating mineral processing plants in various areas of Peru, including in the central towns of Nazca and Paracas, and also destroyed more than 1,000 pieces of machinery, including front-end loaders and pumps used to extract gold-laden rock from rivers.

According to Peru's financial crimes agency head, the government has identified money laundering tied to illegal mining in excess of $1.5bn.

Following the initiative by government, some illegal miners have resorted to violent protests and blocking traffic on the busy inter oceanic highway that links the Pacific coast with Brazil.

Pulgar-Vidal said that the military is supporting and protecting the police in the crackdown, and added that there is also a number of foreign illegal miners, including those from China and Russia.

"One measure that we should have soon, as the president has asked for it, is a law that speeds the expulsion of foreigners who are financing or who are carrying out illegal mining," Pulgar-Vidal said.

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