see more

Raft of prospectors or garimpeiros, gold dust being washed out from the river bed with mercury, tropical river Rio Tapajos in the Amazon rainforest, district Itaituba, Para state, Brazil

Raft of prospectors or garimpeiros, gold dust being washed out from the river bed with mercury, tropical river Rio Tapajos in the Amazon rainforest, district Itaituba, Para state, Brazil

see more

MADRE DE DIOS REGION, PERU - NOVEMBER 17: National Police officers search for illegal mining operations in a deforested section of the Amazon lowlands ravaged by mining on November 17, 2013 in Madre de Dios region, Peru. Police eventually destroyed three pieces of illegal mining equipment in the area. The biologically diverse Madre de Dios ('Mother of God') region has seen deforestation from gold mining in the area triple since 2008, when gold prices spiked during global economic turmoil. Small-scale miners are drawn to the area in hopes for higher pay but often face abysmal conditions. Gold is usually amalgamated with mercury during the process of informal mining in the region, which is discharged into the water supply and air, poisoning fish and sickening people in the area. Peru is the largest producer of gold in Latin America and the sixth-largest in the world. Informal mining accounts for roughly 20 percent of the gold production in Peru. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

MADRE DE DIOS REGION, PERU - NOVEMBER 17:  National Police officers search for illegal mining operations in a deforested section of the Amazon lowlands ravaged by mining on November 17, 2013 in Madre de Dios region, Peru. Police eventually destroyed three pieces of illegal mining equipment in the area. The biologically diverse Madre de Dios ('Mother of God') region has seen deforestation from gold mining in the area triple since 2008, when gold prices spiked during global economic turmoil. Small-scale miners are drawn to the area in hopes for higher pay but often face abysmal conditions. Gold is usually amalgamated with mercury during the process of informal mining in the region, which is discharged into the water supply and air, poisoning fish and sickening people in the area. Peru is the largest producer of gold in Latin America and the sixth-largest in the world. Informal mining accounts for roughly 20 percent of the gold production in Peru.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

see more

MADRE DE DIOS REGION, PERU - NOVEMBER 16: Loggers sit on felled trees in a deforested section along the Interoceanic Highway in the Amazon lowlands on November 16, 2013 in Madre de Dios region, Peru. The biologically diverse Madre de Dios ('Mother of God') region has seen deforestation from gold mining in the area triple since 2008, when gold prices spiked during global economic turmoil. In addition, deforestation along the recently constructed highway has occurred due to logging and farming as the highway has opened access to previously remote areas. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

MADRE DE DIOS REGION, PERU - NOVEMBER 16:  Loggers sit on felled trees in a deforested section along the Interoceanic Highway in the Amazon lowlands on November 16, 2013 in Madre de Dios region, Peru. The biologically diverse Madre de Dios ('Mother of God') region has seen deforestation from gold mining in the area triple since 2008, when gold prices spiked during global economic turmoil. In addition, deforestation along the recently constructed highway has occurred due to logging and farming as the highway has opened access to previously remote areas. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

see more

MADRE DE DIOS REGION, PERU - NOVEMBER 17: A miner looks on as National Police officers search for illegal mining operations in a deforested section of the Amazon lowlands ravaged by mining on November 17, 2013 in Madre de Dios region, Peru. Police eventually destroyed three pieces of illegal mining equipment in the area. The biologically diverse Madre de Dios ('Mother of God') region has seen deforestation from gold mining in the area triple since 2008, when gold prices spiked during global economic turmoil. Small-scale miners are drawn to the area in hopes for higher pay but often face abysmal conditions. Gold is usually amalgamated with mercury during the process of informal mining in the region, which is discharged into the water supply and air, poisoning fish and sickening people in the area. Peru is the largest producer of gold in Latin America and the sixth-largest in the world. Informal mining accounts for roughly 20 percent of the gold production in Peru. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

MADRE DE DIOS REGION, PERU - NOVEMBER 17:  A miner looks on as National Police officers search for illegal mining operations in a deforested section of the Amazon lowlands ravaged by mining on November 17, 2013 in Madre de Dios region, Peru. Police eventually destroyed three pieces of illegal mining equipment in the area. The biologically diverse Madre de Dios ('Mother of God') region has seen deforestation from gold mining in the area triple since 2008, when gold prices spiked during global economic turmoil. Small-scale miners are drawn to the area in hopes for higher pay but often face abysmal conditions. Gold is usually amalgamated with mercury during the process of informal mining in the region, which is discharged into the water supply and air, poisoning fish and sickening people in the area. Peru is the largest producer of gold in Latin America and the sixth-largest in the world. Informal mining accounts for roughly 20 percent of the gold production in Peru.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

see more

In each 'barranco' or 6m2 plot of land, the owners employ a digger, a sack filler and a controler who calculates the loads carried by each of the six porters up to the mine, a journey often carried out thirty times a day. (Photo by COLLART Hervé/Sygma via Getty Images)

In each 'barranco' or 6m2 plot of land, the owners employ a digger, a sack filler and a controler who calculates the loads carried by each of the six porters up to the mine, a journey often carried out thirty times a day.  (Photo by COLLART Hervé/Sygma via Getty Images)