Illegal Mining in Yapacana National Park (Amazonas, Venezuela) 2019

Two thousand hectares of Yapacana National Park's surface is being subjected to gold mining activity, a case of extreme ecocide. The impact on its ecosystems manifests itself not only on the surface area that has been directly destroyed but also as the radial and expansive effects caused by the more than 2,000 miners currently occupying the national park. This makes Yapacana the national park that, without a doubt, has suffered the highest level of destruction.

Mining activity was already present on a very small scale starting in the mid 1980’s, but its accelerated growth began in the year 2004 and took on an exponential trajectory starting in 2012 and 2014. All mining activity inside Yapacana, as well as in the rest of the state of Amazonas, is illegal. Since its beginnings, this mining activity has been linked to a business operation run from Colombia, and protected by that country’s guerrilla forces. From time to time, Venezuelan authorities have taken measures to evict the miners. Nevertheless, gradually and increasingly, Venezuelan authorities have ceased to take effective measures and have surrendered control of the ELN. This surrender has been agreed to under a criminal scheme that benefits Venezuelan military officers and politicians. Without a doubt, Yapacana is the largest and least regulated mining area in the entire Orinoco-Amazon region (including Colombia and Venezuela), something that contributes essential sustenance to Colombia’s economy and serves as the main source of financial support for the ELN.

We have been able to determine, with a fair amount of accuracy, the magnitude of the physical scars that have been left behind by mining activities at Yapacana National Park, and have succeeded in understanding the dynamics that lie behind these scars. Given the political will and appropriate measures, the physical and ecological impact on YNP can be reversed or at least conditions may be created so that Nature may take care of healing them (at least those that are most visible). Nevertheless, what is happening at Yapacana has repercussions that go well beyond the environmental and are of national and international dimensions.

  • Read the full report in English released by SOSOrinoco on March 15, 2019 “Gold Mining Activity in Yapacana National Park, Venezuela’s Amazon Region | A National, International & Geopolitical Matter of Extreme Urgency for the Environment”
  • Lea el informe completo en español publicado por SOSOrinoco el 15 de marzo, 2019: “La Minería Aurífera en el Parque Nacional Yapacana, Amazonas Venezolano | Un caso de extrema urgencia ambiental y geopolítica, nacional e internacional”

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.