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Project December 14, 2017

Venezuela’s New Gold Rush


Venezuela’s New Gold Rush. Image by Bram Ebus. Venezuela, 2017. 
Venezuela’s New Gold Rush. Image by Bram Ebus. Venezuela, 2017.

On the brink of civil war, Venezuela goes all-in on large-scale mining. President Maduro's 'Mining Decree,' issued last year, opens up the Arco Minero, an area of 112,000 square kilometers rich with gold, coltan, copper, and diamonds. Over 150 companies from 35 countries are lining up to form joint ventures with state-owned Venezuelan mining companies, some of them run by the national army. The Arco Minero project is conceived to be an answer to Venezuela's precarious economic situation, but observers worry for its socio-environmental impacts. About 70 percent of the country's freshwater sources are located in the south of the Arco Minero, and many indigenous communities inhabit the region. The convergence of illegal mining operations, violent mafias controlling gold smuggling routes, and gangs extorting locals doesn't bode well.

This investigative project, part of the Pulitzer Center's data journalism and property rights reporting initiative, was produced by InfoAmazonia, with versions of the story appearing in the following seven international news outlets:

Folha de S. Paulo (Brazil)

El Espectador (Colombia)

Correo del Coroni (Venezuela) (Venezuela)

Trouw (Netherlands)

NRC (Netherlands)

Mongabay (USA)