As Gold Surges, So Does Illegal Mining That Hurts Environment

Aug. 13, 2019, 12:47 PM

The gold rally fueled by the U.S.-China trade war is unleashing a growing wave of illegal miners who are increasingly pushing into fragile environments that range from Latin America’s Amazon to South Africa.

Bullion has surged 18% over three months to the highest in six years. While that’s good news for mining companies, it’s spurring a burst of illegal prospecting that has helped fuel drug trafficking and organized crime within some of the world’s top gold-producing regions.

Flecks of gold remain in a pan at an illegal mine near the city of Quibdo, Colombia.
Photographer: Nicolo Filippo Rosso/Bloomberg

In the Yanomami indigenous lands along Brazil’s border with Venezuela, the number of illegal miners has grown ten-fold since December to 20,000, ...

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