Thousands of Peruvians protest against tougher illegal mining sanctions

Over 5,000 informal miners started an indefinite protest in the gold-rich Peru’s Madre de Dios region on Monday, demanding the government to revoke a new decree that regularizes small-scale and artisanal operations, local newspaper El Comercio reported.

Miners operating deposit illegally or breaking environmental rules now face up to 10 years in prison.

The regulation, according to Peruvian Informal Miners Association “Fedemin,” organizer of the massive demonstration, “discriminates against the sector and will put thousands out of work.”

The law passed last week established a new system to control and monitor chemical inputs used in illegal mining activities. It involves the involvement of a few state institutions. Tax agency Sunat will control tax and customs aspects; energy and mining investment regulator Osinergmin will oversee fuel sales, and production ministry will control chemical inputs.

The regulation also involves the armed forces and the public prosecutor’s office contribution.

According to Peruvian Times, illegal mining in the area involves about 30,000 people, who earn more than five times the national minimum wage.

Illegal gold mining along the Madre de Dios river, says the government, is forcing Amazonian tribes to the riverbank, where fatal conflicts arise (photo).