Maps of Southern Venezuela

This is a gallery of maps of Southern Venezuela that explain the location of the Orinoco Mining Arc/Arco Minero del Orinoco, the areas studied by SOS Orinoco in their reports (see Reports) and other areas of interest.

This map of Venezuela highlights in bright red the Orinoco Mining Arc/Arco Minero del Orinoco 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.

This is an updated map of the illegal mining sectors inside and on the borders of Canaima World Heritage Site (map published in the Correo del Caroni/Pulitzer Center article “Gold mining devastation beneath the eyes of Roraima Tepuy”

On June 5, 2020 SOS Orinoco published new maps of illegal mines in and around Canaima World Heritage Site. At last count, there were 59 mining sectors and hundreds of gold mining sites.

During Hugo R. Chavez’s second presidential period, the administrative body of the Orinoco Mining Arc was created (bright red area), under decree No. 8,415 dated August 23, 2011, Official Gazette No. 39,741. In 2016, Nicolás Maduro unconstitutionally decreed the Orinoco Mining Arc National Strategic Development Zone (Decree No. 2,248 of Official Gazette No. 40,855), without the approval of the National Assembly nor prior and informed public consultation, both of which are criteria established in the National Constitution for this type of decree.

The Orinoco Mining Arc is located South of the Orinoco River with its five mining blocks is 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 are of the Mining Arc, bauxite & iron ore
  • Area 4: Overlaps the Imataca Forest Reserve, where gold, copper, kaolin and dolomite predominate.
  • Area 5: Special Icabaru block, with gold & diamonds

Protected areas are designated for the preservation and conservation of nature. In Venezuela, these spaces are made up of Areas Under Special Administration Regime (Abrae) for conservation purposes, such as national parks that constitute areas with species of plants and animals or habitats of biological, educational and landscape interest that must be protected from alteration or anthropic occupation. There are also natural monuments made up of small areas 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 under the responsibility of the Office of Biological Diversity of the “Ministry of Ecosocialism”.

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.

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.