By Corey Watts | Peru this Week
Police and Peru’s armed forces have again stepped in to seize and destroy illegal mining operations threatening heritage values.
A diverse array of illegal mining equipment worth more than S/. 127,000 (US$ 400,000) was seized and destroyed by Peru’s National Police (PNP) near the Nazca archaeological site in Ica, it was reported today.
Antonion Fernandez, Peru’s High Commissioner for Formalization and Interdiction of Illegal Mining, said that the country’s first task was to protect its natural and cultural heritage assets.
The Nazca geoglyphs were designated a World Heritage Site byUNESCO in 1995, hence the mineral riches under the ground remain untapped.
The temptation is for illegal miners to take advantage of what Mr Fernandez calls a “wilderness of minerals”.
”Illegal miners dig tunnels there, mostly in an effort to find gold ore,” Mr Fernandez told official news agency Andina.
In a separate operation last month, a combined force of soldiers, marines, and police, with the help of the Air Force, were deployed to the El Sira protected area in Ucayali to destroy illegal mining equipment and secure the reserve.
About 22,000 people, comprising 69 indigenous communities, live in the area, some of whose artisanal mining enterprises have been recognized for several years.
Four people were arrested and a long list of illegal mining equipment destroyed.