Peru says crackdown on illegally mined gold may cut exports 25 pct
By Mitra Taj
LIMA Feb 11 (Reuters) - A crackdown on illegally mined gold in Peru has nearly frozen shipments from shell companies and will likely cut overall exports of the precious metal by 25 percent this year, officials said on Tuesday.
Peru is the world's sixth biggest gold exporter, producing around 140 million grams of gold last year.
About a quarter of the estimated $8 billion in gold shipped from the Andean country last year was likely exported by companies that acquire ore from illegal sources and evade taxes, said a customs official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and Daniel Urresti, a high-ranking Peru official charged with tackling illegal mining.
They said stricter export rules, confiscations and criminal investigations would keep that amount of gold from legally leaving Peru this year.
Peru has largely failed to rein in an illegal mining boom that employs an estimated half million people and has destroyed large swaths of the Amazon rainforest, where some of the purest deposits are mined from rivers.
Officials said the new bid to target export companies and not just laborers has already shown results.
"Right now (illegal gold exports) are nearly frozen, the market is practically paralyzed," the customs agent said. "This year we should see gold exports drop 25 percent."
Gold shipments by established mining companies with known deposits are not being targeted and have continued as usual. Continuación...