Continuing the battle against gold miners' mercury in Peru

The US Department of State is granting $1 million to the Blacksmith Institute to collaborate with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment (Minam) in the hopes of reducing the use of mercury in southern Peru, Peru This Week reports. The US and Minam, under the Minamata Convention, are working to reduce mercury use in the regions of Madre de Dios and Puno in Southern Peru.

The US Ambassador to Peru, Brian Nichols, emphasised that the American government will continue to push for the points established by the Convention in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mercury used in informal gold mining has caused contamination over vast areas of the Peruvian jungle and all over the world. The Minamata Convention therefore was signed by an international team of countries to reduce its use.

“I urge you to consider our Environmental Affairs Office as a hub that can help you connect with your partners and other financing sources in the United States and international organizations,” he told Andina news agency.

Two years ago, a shocking documentary demonstrated exactly how devastating informal gold mining and mercury are destroying forests in Peru. Amazon Gold, produced by Sarah DuPont, is “the disturbing account of a clandestine journey that bears witness to the apocalyptic destruction of the rainforest in the pursuit of illegally mined gold.”

Nichols highlighted efforts made by Peru and the US to fight this struggle. It is significant to this struggle that there is a legal framework behind it to prosecute wrong-doers. Therefore, the two states have trained environmental prosecutors and judges and as well worked with publc-private partnerships to improve scientific research in Madre de Dios.