MAAP #115: Illegal Gold Mining in the Amazon, Part 1: Peru

Base Map. The main illegal gold mining areas in the Peruvian Amazon. Data: MAAP.

In a new series, we highlight the main illegal gold mining frontiers in the Amazon.

Here, in part 1, we focus on Peru. In the upcoming part 2, we will look at Brazil.

The Base Map indicates our focus areas in Peru*:

  • Southern Peru (A. La Pampa, B. Alto Malinowski, C. Camanti, D. Pariamanu);
  • Central Peru (E. El Sira).

Notably, we found an important reduction in gold mining deforestation in La Pampa (Peru’s worst gold mining area) following the government’s launch of Operation Mercury in February 2019.

Illegal gold mining continues, however, in three other major areas of the southern Peruvian Amazon (Alto Malinowski, Camanti, and Pariamanu), where we estimate the mining deforestation of 5,300 acres (2,150 hectares) since 2017.

Of that total, 22% (1,162 acres) occurred in 2019, indicating that displaced miners from Operation Mercury have NOT caused a surge in these three areas.

Below, we show a series of satellite videos of the recent gold mining deforestation (2017-19) in each area.

*Recent press reports indicate the increase in illegal gold mining activity in northern Peru (Loreto region), along the Nanay and Napo Rivers, but we have not yet detected associated deforestation.