"A new study reveals that 59,000 kilometers, or nearly 37,000 miles, of tropical rivers have been damaged by mining, based on 7 million measurements taken from satellite images spanning four decades.
The new study reveals a runaway river mining boom starting in the mid-2000s, largely caused by a tremendous spike in gold prices since the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Since then, the price of gold — an element which accounts for 90% of river mining in the tropics — has only gone up.
An estimated 5-7% of the world’s large tropical rivers are considered severely affected by sediment from river-mining activities, with 173 large rivers impacted in the global tropics.
Up to a third of global freshwater fish species are found in tropical rivers. Mining, much of it illegal or informal, seriously impacts both human and natural communities in numerous ways. Sediment traps aquatic life in dense, cloudy, muddied water, with sunlight unable to reach plants and fish."