A NASA photo showing rivers of gold in Peru hides a tragedy

Thousands of illegal miners try to find gold in the south of the country, even if they have to use tons of mercury that is poisoning the earth.

Some images published by NASA on its Twitter account have gone viral for very different reasons. The photographs show what appear to be “rivers of gold” in the region of Madre de Dios, in southeastern Peru, but it is something much sadder: it is an example of the illegal exploitation of gold mines that is happening in the Peruvian jungle.

Those rivers of gold are actually wells dug to try to find gold illegally. There are hundreds of basins filled with water, practically linked to each other, and in which the vegetation has completely disappeared. And this area, whose wells are usually hidden, have come to light thanks to the photographs that an astronaut from the International Space Station obtained on a sunny day.

The problem is of an enormous magnitude since in this region alone it is estimated that there are up to 30,000 miners working illegally to find and collect gold. But it is not the first time that the fever for this material has been unleashed in Peru. In 2019, the Government expelled more than 5,000 illegal miners who worked in the La Pampa area.

Complaints from around the world

The images published by NASA have allowed us to know directly the drama that is being lived in this region of southern Peru. Thousands of miners act with total impunity trying to find gold and the big problem is that, to find it, they use large amounts of mercury that they are dumping on the ground.

As published by the BBC, many groups have denounced this “poisoning” that the miners are generating on local communities. Some scientists have shown that there are significant amounts of mercury that is released both in rivers and in the atmosphere itself, causing great damage to the environment.

This has led to enormous deforestation, which, in turn, has made various animal species disappear by the destruction of their habitats.