Illegal miners enter protected areas in the Cordillera Blanca again

T he head of the Huascarán National Park Mr. Jesús Gómez stated that illegal miners are operating in the Quebrada Onda zone again. This is the same area of which they were removed from a mere seven months ago. The Quebrada Onda is located in the jurisdiction of the province of Carhuaz in the district of Marcará.

The national park´s director also said that the illegal miners have come back after previously been evicted from the area and that the illegal miners have entered the protected areas once more to exploit minerals whose extractive operation heavily damages the environment. The aforementioned authority pointed out that illegal miners have built improvised roads where they extract the mineral from. Additionally, they appear to use heavy tonnage dump trucks that are also not suitable to transfer the minerals.

The Environmental Police and the Public Prosecutor have interfered on several occasions; however the illegal miners are supported by peasant communities who clearly get a cut of the digging. Over half a year ago, a special force of over a 100 policemen, accompanied by reporters of nationwide newspaper El Comercio, got past the Vicos community in search of illegal mining camps and found a small settlement with 15 small camps, 15 cabins, 200 meters of hose, and a sink hole. Back then, the Illegal mining operation seemed to have served around 150 miners who were apparently mining for zinc and lead primarily. Apparently the miners were tipped off by the local villagers.

There is no question that the illegal mining benefits the pockets of some villagers of the Vicos community on short term. However, there are long term concerns in terms of health. Natural resources have been severely damaged and the water used in the community might contain poison or minerals. But apparently the community doesn’t care. No need to say that mining within any national park around the world is strictly forbidden.

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