Rising gold prices have caught the attention of factions in poor and war-torn South American countries.
Leftist and right-wing armies engaged in a decades-long war in Colombia are battling over gold mines in efforts to find new sources of money, The New York Times reported in early March.
Illegal mines are flourishing in the Medellin area as guerrillas and their paramilitary adversaries rival for profits from record-high gold prices, the Times said. The operations are releasing an estimated 67 tons of mercury each year.
Higher gold prices also offer hope for new revenue for Ecuador, a country almost entirely dependent on its oil exports. An estimated 11 million ounces of gold lies in deposits in southern Ecuador, reports www.ecuadorminingnews.com. Copper is also abundant.
“Ecuador’s mineral potential is comparable to its oil resources,” said economist Walter Spurrier on www.ecuadorminingnews.com.