Mining and other extractive industries are attracted to rainforests where mineral resources are found. Gold-prospecting, for example, sends people into the forests, where the prospectors utilize toxic chemicals (mercury), cut down trees for fuel, and empty the surrounding forest of animals by hunting. Moreover, many of these industries, particularly gold mining, release toxic wastes. More than 100 tons of mercury have been dumped into tributaries of the Amazon by gold miners (Salati, et al., 1993). These extractive industries also spawn ancillary industries which may demand charcoal, for example, which can be supplied only by removal of more timber, generally in the vicinity of the factory. Interestingly, in Brazil, where there are around 500,000 miners, it is said that most of the gold and gemstones are smuggled abroad, and thus little benefit accrues to the region or to the Brazilian government from this most destructive activity. From 1975 through 1988, the value of these smuggled commodities has been estimated at US$18 billion (Salati, et al., 1993) Oil drilling has destroyed forests in Nigeria and Pacayu-Samiria Reserve in Peru, for examples, and has contaminated large tracts of land.

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