LIMA, Sept 7 The government of Peru wants a
state-owned bank to buy gold from artisanal miners in order to
replace a lucrative but shady informal market, Finance Minister
Alfredo Thorne said on Wednesday.
Thorne said the miners would receive a better price for
their gold and would not have to pay the value added tax rate,
giving them incentives to register with the government and
comply with environment and labor laws.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former investment banker
who took office on July 28, had previously proposed establishing
a "mining bank" to buy the gold. Kuczynski said the bank could
be controlled in part by private shareholders.
But the government now thinks it would be more appropriate
for a new fund in the state-owned Banco de la Nacion or
Corporacion Financiera de Desarrollo SA (Cofide) to buy
the gold before it is exported, Thorne said.
"In this way we'll be able to formalize a large part of
artisanal miners that today make up almost 50 percent of the
gold production in our country," Thorne said in broadcast
comments to journalists after a presentation in Congress.
Previous government officials have given more conservative
estimates for how much of Peru's gold is produced by small-scale
miners, who use dredges in the Amazon jungle and carve out
tunnels in the ice in the Andes mountains to find the metal.
Data from the energy and mines ministry showed that
artisanal miners produced about 13 tonnes of gold, or about 17
percent of national output, in the first half of 2016.
But Peru exports more gold than it officially produces every
year, an indication that ore from illegal mines makes its way
into the legal supply chain. Peru was the world's sixth biggest
gold producer in 2015, according to the energy and mines
The previous government of Ollanta Humala estimated that
illegal miners destroyed more than 50,000 hectares (123,552
acres) of rainforest and dumped at least 3,000 tonnes of mercury
into the Amazon. Officials have also said that illegal mines are
also hotbeds for child labor and human trafficking.
A crackdown on illegal mining during Humala's term prompted
traders to smuggle gold ore to neighboring Bolivia for export.
(Reporting By Mitra Taj; editing by Grant McCool)