25 cooperatives say they are authorized to operate in Madidi;  experts, that all activity is illegal

25 cooperatives say they are authorized to operate in Madidi; experts, that all activity is illegal

Page Seven / La Paz

While the pressure and criticism for the exploitation of gold in Madidi Park grow, experts affirm that mining in national parks is illegal and that environmental regulations are not complied with. But the parent entity of the La Paz cooperatives assures that 25 of its associates are authorized to enter the area.

Cedib researcher Óscar Campanini explained that although there is the possibility of carrying out mining activity in a protected area, it must be subject to coordination, monitoring and compliance with environmental regulations and follow-up by the entity that manages the protected areas.

“Each protected area has a management plan or at least a zoning, where the types of activity that can be carried out are defined. There are some areas that are of strict conservation, which is the core zone and where no type of mining activity can be carried out, ”he stressed.

According to Campanini, in 2014 changes were made to the management and zoning plans for protected areas. “The main thing is to comply with regulations, but in practice studies, monitoring and environmental licenses are not complied with. In practice, when motorized pumps and machinery are used, significant impacts are generated and much more if mercury is used. There the impacts extend beyond five kilometers ”, he remarked.

According to Campanini, the problem is that mining activities do not always comply with environmental regulations and work begins as soon as the process for mining rights has begun. “There is pressure to modify management and zoning plans in favor of cooperative members. As far as we know, in Apolobamba and Madidi the management plans have been modified in 2014 in agreement with the mining sector, so that they can carry out activities in places that they should not due to the care of the environment, ”he remarked.

Former Comibol president Héctor Córdova told Página Siete that mining regulations prohibit mining operations in protected areas, even more so if mining operators do not have an environmental license to guarantee that the ecosystem is not harmed.

“With mining it is impossible not to affect the ecosystem, particularly when it comes to cooperatives that use a lot of mercury. It would be necessary to see if they have an environmental license and if they do not have an environmental license, it would be impossible for them to operate, the law prohibits it, although the Government has turned a blind eye several times, ”he specified.

The director of Sernap Monitoring, Alejandra Salamanca, assured Página Siete that in Madidi, as it is a national park, no new and illegal mining activity will be allowed. “The Sernap did not grant new authorizations and no mining activity will be allowed within this protected area,” the authority stressed.

They say they follow the rules

The president of the Federation of Gold Mining Cooperatives of the North of La Paz (Fecoman), Vicente Choque Tola, reported that as an entity they carry out guidelines so that natural resources can be used in compliance with current regulations and without affecting restricted areas. “The Madidi Park and the areas prohibited to mining activity are not being affected,” he pointed out.

In addition, he stated that not a single gram of mercury is used in the activity.

“We have more than 25 cooperatives with established documents and others in the process of processing and new contracts. We ask the authorities to attend to these pending documents so that illegal mining does not enter, which will only lead us to informality and smuggling, as is the case in Madre de Dios, where they take advantage of Brazilian and Peruvian natural resources,” he specified.

Fecoman asks the Mining Administrative Jurisdictional Authority (AJAM), the National Protected Areas Service (Sernap) and the Ministry of Mining flexibility to formalize cooperatives with paperwork, so that they can carry out mining activity responsibly.

park siege

  • Incursion Nine companies besiege the Madidi National Park and Integrated Management Natural Area for the illegal exploitation of gold on the banks of the Tuichi River, and the National Service of Protected Areas (Sernap) initiated administrative processes to restrict their activity.
  • Activity Companies and cooperatives entered Madidi excavators, loaders, dump trucks, power generators, motor pumps, ore classifiers, washers and mining supplies, such as politibos, according to Sernap.

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