MAAP #196: Mining Impacts Calculator: Analysis in 3 Indigenous Communities of the Southern Peruvian Amazon

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Website of the Gold Mining Impact Calculator developed by CSF.

Illegal gold mining has generated massive deforestation in the southern Peruvian Amazon (MAAP #208). This activity also affects several of the main rivers (such as the Madre de Dios, Inambari, Tambopata, Malinowski and Colorado), and also their tributaries and secondary bodies of water. All of them are contaminated by excess sediment and the presence of toxic substances such as mercury and arsenic, which are dumped during the mineral extraction process.

Thus, illegal mining activity generates large economic losses due to the direct impact on ecosystem services and other more sustainable economic activities.

Quantifying these impacts in monetary terms has been a challenge for national authorities lacking adequate instruments capable of establishing economic values of the impact generated by illegal mining activity in the Amazon. In this context, in 2021 the Mining Impacts Calculator was presented, a digital economic valuation tool developed by the organization Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF). This tool allows users to calculate the social and environmental impact of illegal gold mining in the Amazon1, in order to improve decision-making, and establish changes and/or improvements in the regulatory framework around this activity.

This report shows the results of the application of the Calculator in recent (2022 and 2023) illegal mining areas within 3 native communities, all located in the buffer zone of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in southern Peru. This is an effort to show from a comprehensive perspective (economic and environmental) the implications of deforestation due to illegal mining in the Peruvian Amazon.

The economic calculations of the socio-environmental impacts were carried out using the Gold Mining Impact Calculator. The results show that from the beginning of 2022 to August 2023, there was a total economic loss amounting to 593 million dollars ($593,786,943) for the socio-environmental impacts, generated by deforestation, sedimentation and contamination of rivers by mercury in three indigenous communities of Madre de Dios. The details about the data that was entered into this tool to obtain the results mentioned in the report are explained in the methodology section.

Base Map

The Base Map shows the location of the case studies of this report, which is focused on quantifying the impact of illegal mining, through economic valuation, in 3 native communities in the buffer zone of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve: San José de Karene, Puerto Luz, and Barranco Chico, all located in the province of Manu, department of Madre de Dios. Additionally, on the map, you can see historical, recent, and current deforestation.

Base Map. Location of the 3 native communities of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve that are part of the study. Data: ACA/ACCA.

Impact in the San José de Karene Native Community

The native community of San José de Karene has lost 914 hectares from 2022 to August 2023 (See Map 2). In 2022, they lost 312 hectares and so far in 2023, until the month of August, 602 new hectares have been lost. It should be noted that the community currently has mining rights that overlap with its communal territory. When applying the Gold Mining Impact Calculator, it can be seen that the total socio-environmental impacts for 2022 were 86 million dollars ($86,258,492). On the other hand, so far in 2023, this figure increased significantly, reaching 166 million dollars ($166,657,897), as can be seen in Figure 1.

Map 2. Location of areas deforested by illegal mining in the San José de Karene native community (for 2022 and 2023, until August). Data: ACA.

Figure 1. Results of the Gold Mining Impact Calculator in the San José de Karene native community for the year 2022 and 2023 (until August). Source: Screenshot of the Gold Mining Impact Calculator.

Impact in the Puerto Luz Native Community

The native community of Puerto Luz has lost 270.6 hectares between 2022 and August 2023 (See Map 3). In 2022, they lost 100 hectares and so far from 2023 until the month of August they have lost 170.6 new hectares. The community currently has mining rights that overlap with its communal territory. Applying the tool, it is estimated that the total socio-environmental impacts for 2022 were 24 million dollars ($24,947,385), while so far in 2023 it was 44 million dollars ($44,205,548).

Map 3. Location of areas deforested by illegal mining in the Puerto Luz native community (for 2022 and 2023, until August). Data: ACA.

Figure 2. Results of the Calculator at the Puerto Luz native community for the year 2022 and the year 2023 (until August). Source: Screenshot of the Gold Mining Impact Calculator.

Impact in the Barranco Chico Native Community

The native community of Barranco Chico has lost 1093.3 hectares from 2022 to August 2023 (See Map 4). In 2022, they lost 277.3 hectares and so far from 2023 until the month of August they have lost 816 new hectares. The community currently has mining rights that overlap with its communal territory. Applying the Gold Mining Impact Calculator, it is observed that the total socio-environmental impacts for 2022 were 75 million dollars ($75,347,270), while so far in 2023 (August) it was 196 million dollars ( $196,370,351).

Map 4. Location of areas deforested by illegal mining in the native community Barranco Chico, Data: ACA.

Figure 3. Results of the Calculator for the Barranco Chico native community for the year 2022 and the year 2023 (until August). Source: Screenshot of the Gold Mining Impact Calculator.

Metodology

See the Spanish version of this report for full methodology and notes. The inputs to the calculator were as follows:

Acknowledgments

This report was prepared with the technical support of USAID through the Prevent Project. Prevent (Proyecto Prevenir in Spanish) works with the Government of Peru, civil society, and the private sector to prevent and combat environmental crimes for the conservation of the Peruvian Amazon, particularly in the regions of Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Ucayali.

Disclaimer: This publication is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

The CSF Gold Mining Impact Calculator is a tool based on scientific evidence. While CSF provides peer-validated information, it is not responsible for the consequences of using the calculator.

Citation

Mamani N, Huamán B, Novoa S, Morillo A, Torres M, Silva C, Finer M (2024) Gold Mining Impact Calculator: Analysis in 3 Indigenous Communities of the Southern Peruvian Amazon. MAAP: 196.

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