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Euro crisis triggers global gold rush

A new gold rush is sweeping through Latin America with devastating consequences, ravaging tropical forests and dumping toxic chemicals as illegal miners fight against international projects.

world Updated: May 17, 2012 00:13 IST

A new gold rush is sweeping through Latin America with devastating consequences, ravaging tropical forests and dumping toxic chemicals as illegal miners fight against international projects.


With international market prices for metals high, informal "wildcat" mining has been on the rise in recent years in countries like Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, itself one of the largest producers of silver, copper and gold. Mining investments in those countries are expected to reach some $300 bn in 2020, according to the Inter-American Mining Society.

But over 160 mining conflicts have erupted across the region amid growing opposition from locals against projects they consider a threat to the environment, the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America says.

During the past decade, the price of gold went from $270 to between $1,600-1,800 per ounce, as people rushed to convert their cash into the precious metal seen as a safe investment during the global economic crisis.

And the price of copper is at an all-time high thanks to China's insatiable appetite for it.