LIFESTYLE

Peruvian Illegal Miners' Hard Life Now Tinged With Fear Of Crackdown
Most wildcat miners hail from impoverished highlands communities and barely earn subsistence wages. They chew coca leaf, a mild stimulant, to ward off the fatigue that can lead to fatal accidents.
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In this May 4, 2014 photo, a miner stands next to a tube used to transport soil removed from a surrounding crater to a sluice-like carpeted contraption to filter gold in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Artisanal gold miners began carving the lawless, series of ramshackle settlement out of Amazon jungle in 2008. The miners who are working up to the last minute, know they will be soon be evicted, Perus government declared all informal mining illegal on April 19. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, a sex worker who is employed at an informal bar waits for customers in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Life is cheap in the mining camps. Deaths go unrecorded and the mercury miners use to bind gold flecks compounds the risks. Tons of the toxic metal have been dumped into rivers, contaminating fish, humans and other animals and plants. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 4, 2014 photo, a miner holds an amalgam of mercury and gold he mined after working a 28-hour shift at an illegal gold mining process, in La Pampa, in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Thousands of artisanal gold miners sweat through the long shifts and endure, for a few grams of gold, the perils of collapsing earth, limb-crushing machinery and the toxic mercury used to bind gold flecks. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 5, 2014 photo, a sex worker who is employed by an informal bar playfully sticks out her tongue while posing for a photo, outside her place of her employment in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Since artisanal gold mining took hold in La Pampa, miners began carving a lawless, series of ramshackle settlement out of the Amazonian jungle territory in 2008. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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An aerial photo shows tailings in La Pampa district produced by informal mining in Peru's Madre de Dios region in Peru, Monday, April 28, 2014. Soldiers, police and marines have begun destroying illegal gold mining machinery in Perus southeastern jungle region of Madre de Dios. Authorities began enforcing a ban on illegal mining Monday in the Huepetuhe district. They had given the states illegal miners until April 19 to get legal or halt operations. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 4, 2014 photo, a miner stands next to a tube used to transport soil removed from a surrounding crater to a sluice-like carpeted contraption to filter gold in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Artisanal gold miners began carving the lawless, series of ramshackle settlement out of Amazon jungle in 2008. The miners who are working up to the last minute, know they will be soon be evicted, Perus government declared all informal mining illegal on April 19. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, a sex worker sits with potential customers at the informal bar "La Rica Miel" or Delicious Honey in English, in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Wildcat miners began arriving in 2008, populating shantytowns carved into the jungle along the interoceanic highway where coerced prostitution and tuberculosis now thrive. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 4, 2014 photo, a mining camp lines the horizon in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Since artisanal gold mining took hold in La Pampa, miners began carving a lawless, series of ramshackle settlement out of the Amazonian jungle territory in 2008. The artisanal miners, who know they will be soon be evicted, are working up to the last minute after Perus government declared all informal mining illegal on April 19. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, a jet stream of water passes above two miners known as "Maraqueros" who remove stones and chunks of tree trunks that have been released with the aid of a rustic type of hydraulic jet known locally as a "Chupadera," in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. The Chupadera aims powerful jet streams of water at earth walls, releasing the soils that hold the sought after flecks of gold. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, Prisaida, 2, sits in the shallow waters of a polluted lagoon as her parents mine for gold nearby, in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. The lagoon emerged as a result of miners bombarding the earth with jet streams of water in search of gold. The miners know they will be soon be evicted, Perus government declared all informal mining illegal on April 19. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 4, 2014 photo, a miner melts an amalgam of gold and mercury to burn off the mercury, in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. This rudimentary process of extracting the gold from the amalgam, releases mercury vapors, adding to the contamination that is resulting in the deforestation of thousands of acres of the Amazon rainforest. Perus government declared all informal mining illegal on April 19 and began a crackdown, dynamiting their equipment. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
(AP2014)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, wildcat miners wait their turn to melt their amalgam of gold and mercury to burn off the mercury in the temporary home of a gold buyer in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. It's not just miners who are threatened with economic catastrophe from the government¹s campaign to wipe out illegal mining operations, said a mining camp cook. For every miner there is a family that eats because he works, she said. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, an informal miner works to separate flecks of gold from the sandy, alluvial soil, using mercury to bind inside the crater of a gold mine process in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. The clock has run out for the thousands of illegal gold miners who had until April 19 to legalize their status in a region of southeastern Peru where fortune-seekers have ravaged rainforests and contaminated rivers. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 5, 2014 photo, after it stopped raining, Johan tied his father's raincoat around himself while playing in the front yard of their temporary home next to their satellite tv dish at a mining camp in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. It's not just miners who are threatened with economic catastrophe from the government's campaign to wipe out illegal mining operations, said a mining camp cook. For every miner there is a family that eats because he works, she said. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 5, 2014 photo, a sex worker who is employed by an informal bar waits for customers in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. No one knows how much gold Madre de Dios contains, but Peru as a whole ranks sixth globally and first in Latin America in gold production. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 3, 2014 photo, a miner roughly estimates his handful of gold he mined, after working for over 24-hours, in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Thousands of artisanal gold miners sweat through the long hours and endure, for a few grams of gold, the perils of collapsing earth, limb-crushing machinery and the toxic mercury used to bind gold flecks. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 4, 2014 photo, a miner uses a boot to fill with water the radiator of a rustic type of hydraulic jet known locally as a "Chupadera," used to to mine for gold at a gold mine process in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. Miners sweat through 28-hour shifts in the malarial jungle of the Madre de Dios region in southeaster Peru, enduring for a few grams of gold the perils of collapsing earth and limb-crushing machinery. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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In this May 5, 2014 photo, miners known as "Maraqueros" ready a rustic type of hydraulic jet known locally as a "Chupadera," after hauling the device about 16-meters deep into a crater at a gold mine process in La Pampa in Peru's Madre de Dios region. A new threat now looms for the estimated 20,000 wildcat miners who toil in huge scar of denuded rainforest known as La Pampa, an area nearly three times the size of Washington, D.C. Peru's government declared all informal mining illegal on April 19 and began a crackdown. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Peruvian Illegal Miners' Hard Life Now Tinged With Fear Of Crackdown

Most wildcat miners hail from impoverished highlands communities and barely earn subsistence wages. They chew coca leaf, a mild stimulant, to ward off the fatigue that can lead to fatal accidents.

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