There are continuous protests and conflicts between Peruvian Government and miners organizations in Madre de Dios. The main reason is a number of new decrees intended to start formalization of small-scale mining in 2010. In order to accelerate this formalization, in the second half of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, several military and police interventions were realized to repress illegal small-scale and artisanal gold mining in the area. 

These interventions included violent measures, such as the bombing of several small mining operations in the Malinowski river in the Tambopata Reserve buffer zone. In this buffer zone, traditional miner families and associations were already mining before the Tambopata park was officially declared in 1990. They had never been told to leave the area.

Afterwards and after strong reactions and protests from different miners federations and associations, the Government declared new plans. Mining activities in Madre de Dios would be formalized and concentrated in a so called special mining strip or Corridor Minero. In April 2012 the Ministry of Energy and Mines formulated and published new decrees to stop illegal mining and to formalize small-scale mining.

But despite these measures, it remains a challenge to resolve the problems. An important aspect here is the people’s distrust to governmental measures, promises and actions, based on bad experiences from the past. There is little progress with regard to formalization, and the situation in Madre de Dios remains tense.

It is important to note the diversity of actors, involved in the conflict. Not all the miners organizations are the same. The large federations, like FEDEMIN, have more influence and negotiate with the national or regional government through their own channels. Their viewpoints may contradict with smaller miners’ associations. There are also agrarian federations, who express their concern and protest against the on-going miner’s invasion. Sometimes however, their members can also be part of mining activities as a part-time activity. Native communities are victims, but sometimes also take part of changes in land use and mining invasions.

Read more:
Opinion: Who’s to blame for Peru’s gold mining troubles?
Deadline lapses in for illegal gold miners. 
Illegal miners in Madre de Dios. 
Triscitti, F. (2013). Mining, development and corporate-community conflicts in Peru.