New Gold Rush in Peru


Thousands of poor Peruvians are scrambling to the Amazon region of the country in an attempt to get their share of illegal gold. The rush to the Madre de Dios region in southeast Peru has brought chaos, violence and destruction to the Amazon rainforest, one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. The government, however, is next to helpless in controlling illegal mining in Peru.

The new gold rush is partly due to the high gold price, which has attracted many miners to the region. They come with heavy digging machines and drive away not only animals but also indigenous people who live in the region. The government is afraid that the rainforest will disappear completely. In addition, miners use mercury to process the gold dust. The poisonous mineral then gets into the rivers and contaminates the food chain.


Miners scrape off the top layer of the earth, mix it with water and dump it down metal slides. The liquid material is then filtered through a mat which catches gold particles. In some cases mining teams collect as much as 40 g of gold a day.
The Peruvian government is now cracking down on the illegal miners and threatening them to either get a license or get out of the region. Police are moving in with dynamite to blow up the machinery as the only way of stopping illegal activities

The government says that mining is allowed if people obey environmental laws, legalize their businesses and pay taxes. On the other side miners say that this isn’t possible because of widespread corruption going on in the government. Some small miners say that the government discriminates against them and gives mining licenses to big foreign companies instead. They claim that even high officials in the Peruvian government are involved in corruption.

In any case, the outcome of Peru’s mining battle will largely depend on how far the gold price goes up or down.



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  • activity = action
  • attempt = try
  • attract = here: to get people to go somewhere
  • battle = fight, conflict
  • bio-diverse = many plants and animals in a certain place
  • claim = to say officially
  • contaminate = pollute, make dirty, poison
  • crack down = to become very strict in dealing with a problem
  • destruction = complete damage
  • dig = to move earth
  • disappear = go away
  • discriminate against = to treat a person or group differently than others
  • due to = because of
  • dump = unload
  • dust = dry powder made up of very small particles of dirt
  • environment = the world around us
  • food chain = the way one plant or animal eats another; this one eats the next etc..
  • foreign = from another country
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • however =  but
  • illegal = against the law
  • in addition = also
  • indigenous people = people who have always been in the area; they have always lived there
  • law = rule
  • legalize = to make legal; according to the rules
  • license = a document that allows you to do something
  • liquid = watery, fluid
  • machinery = all the machines
  • mat = a piece of thick material
  • mercury = a heavy silver-white poisonous metal that is liquid at room temperature
  • miner = a person who digs minerals out of the earth
  • next to = almost
  • obey = follow
  • official = someone who is in a high position in the government
  • outcome = result
  • partly = in part, somewhat
  • poisonous = deadly
  • scramble = hurry, move fast
  • scrape = rub, scratch
  • share = part
  • slide = a structure made out of metal which you can move things down
  • tax = here: the money you must pay to the government for getting permission to make money or to do something
  • widespread = very common; happening everywhere