Sign On: Keep Gold Miners Out of Our Rainforest

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The gold rush is not letting up: in order to let a Canadian mining company dig in the Peruvian Amazon, officials fraudulently declared the rainforest of the Shawi people to be clear, uninhabited land. The Shawi have been living there in harmony with nature for centuries – please speak out against the destruction of their ancestral land.

This is a truly unprecedented, brazen move: government officials in Peru declared 8,900 hectares of Amazon rainforest – the ancestral land of the Shawi people – to be uninhabited, clear land so that they could grant gold and copper mining licenses to a Canadian company. With these and other dirty tricks, they are running roughshod over indigenous land rights and nature conservation laws.

The supposedly nonexistent rainforest is located in the district of Balsapuerto in Peru’s Alto Amazonas province. The Shawi people have lived there for generations. Now, their land rights – and their very existence – are being denied by government officials. Without consulting the indigenous people, the Ministry of Energy and Mining and the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (INGEMMET) hastily pushed through the concessions on the Shawi’s ancestral land.

The beneficiary of the mining rights for gold and copper is Minerales Camino Real Perú SAC, a subsidiary of Royal Road Minerals Limited, a Canadian company.

Peruvian indigenous organizations strongly condemn the authorities’ actions, which violate Peruvian and international law. The approval is based on absurd and contradictory claims. An environmental impact assessment has not been published and the free, prior and informed consent of the Shawi people was not obtained.

The indigenous people are not the only ones who depend on the forest: an unpolluted environment is also indispensable for the more than 60,000 inhabitants of the town of Yurimaguas. The mining concessions are located at the foot of the Andes in the source areas of the Cachiyacu, Armanayacu and Yanayacu Rivers, which feed the Paranapura and Huallaga Rivers. The latter supplies the town with drinking water – polluting the rivers with cyanide and mercury from the mines would be a disaster.

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