Venezuelan Amazon

Mining footprint (polygons of direct intervention by mining activity) current and georeferenced by direct visual interpretation on recent satellite images up to April 2021

Location of the activity and mining footprint in relation to the main Protected Areas south of the Orinoco River  Source: SOS Orinoco.

Legal Framework for the Sustainable Development of the Venezuelan Amazon (Caracas Venezuela, June 2021) Download:

This map of Venezuela highlights in bright red the Orinoco Mining Arc and the  areas studied by SOS Orinoco that have been most affected by illegal mining activity. These mining sectors are located mostly in Special Protected Areas of great social and economic importance. Up to July 2020, SOS Orinoco had detected by remote and local information, 646 mining sectors South of the Orinoco River, that are impacting 47,700 hectares. Venezuela is currently the Amazonian country with the second largest quantity of illegal mechanized mines operating on a small and medium scale.

During the second presidential term of Hugo R. Chávez, the Orinoco Mining Arc (highlighted in red) administrative body was created under Decree No. 8,415  of August 23, 2011, Official Gazette No. 39,741. In 2016, Nicolás Maduro unconstitutionally decreed the Arco Minero del Orinoco National Strategic Development Zone (Decree No. 2,248 of Official Gazette No. 40,855), without the approval of the National Assembly or prior and informed public consultation, both criteria established in the Constitution. National for this type of decrees.

The Orinoco Mining Arc is located south of the Orinoco River. With its five mining blocks, it extends 111,843.70 km2 = 12% of the territory of Venezuela.

Area 1: The westernmost area, bordering the Cuchivero River, where bauxite, coltan, rare earths and diamonds are the main minerals.

Area 2: Delimited by the Cuchivero and Aro rivers, non-metallic minerals and alluvial gold.

Area 3: Between the Aro River and the easternmost river,  bauxite and iron ore. can be found

Area 4: It overlaps the Imataca Forest Reserve, where gold, copper, kaolin and dolomite predominate

Area 5: Icabarú special block with gold and diamonds.

In Venezuela, the Law of Demarcation and Guarantee of the Habitat and Lands of Indigenous Peoples and Communities grants these peoples and communities the right to demarcate the habitats and lands that they occupy ancestrally and traditionally. Since 2006, the towns have organized to self-demarcate their territory and present the proposals to the National Demarcation Commission, however most of the proposals are still unanswered. This map identifies:

a) formally demarcated and recognized lands

b) self-demarcated but unrecognized lands and

c) the geographic spaces historically known as traditionally inhabited by indigenous peoples.

Protected areas are designated for the preservation and conservation of nature. In Venezuela, these spaces are made up of Areas under the Special Administration Regime (ABRAE) for conservation purposes, such as national parks that constitute areas with plant and animal species or habitats of biological, educational and landscape interest that must be protected from alterations or anthropic occupation. There are also natural monuments made up of small spaces that have outstanding natural characteristics or exceptional beauty that must be kept in their original state. Inparques is the managing entity of national parks and natural monuments, the rest of protected areas such as wildlife reserves, refuges, sanctuaries and biosphere reserves are in charge of the Office of Biological Diversity of the “Ministry of Ecosocialism.”

Our position on
the Orinoco Mining Arc

Arco Minero del Orinoco

The purpose of SOSOrinoco is to shed light on the existing body of work regarding the situation in the Amazonia and Orinoquia regions of Venezuela, to raise awareness of the tragedy that is occurring and to outline some urgent measures that need to be taken in order to halt the unfolding human and environmental disaster.