Already a Scourge, Illegal Gold Mining in Colombia Is Getting Worse

An aerial view of the rain forest, including the destruction caused by gold mining in Colombia, near the city of Quibdo, November 27, 2015 (Photo by Georg Ismar for DPA via AP Images).
An aerial view of the rain forest, including the destruction caused by gold mining in Colombia, near the city of Quibdo, November 27, 2015 (Photo by Georg Ismar for DPA via AP Images).
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In early July, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, and Colombia’s Ministry for Mines and Energy reported that 66 percent of alluvial gold exploitation in the country is considered unregulated. Illegal mining in Colombia is nothing new, but the latest report indicated that the amount of affected land—84,000 hectares, or more than 200,00 acres—is up 6 percent since the UNODC’s first study on the subject in 2014. The list of violent competitors trying to access these gold riches offers a snapshot of Colombia’s various social fault lines and conflicts. It includes the National Liberation Army, or […]

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