By Maria Ramirez and Mayela Armas
Monday, September 12, 2022
EL CALLAO and CARACAS, Venezuela -- In Venezuela's El Callao mining region, countless small, artisanal miners who once sold gold to the government have left the area in the last year because accessible local supplies are depleted and President Nicolas Maduro has been striking deals with bigger miners, seeking more production and more revenue for the treasury.
Nationalizations in 2011 pushed out private miners and gold production stagnated. Now Maduro wants to ramp up production by building "strategic alliances" with select private companies, a dozen sources told Reuters. These partnerships are forcing out informal miners in places like El Callao, in the country's south, businessmen, government officials, and miners said.
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"They are looking to have more gold. It is what the state has always wanted," said Alexis Chauran, director of an association of gold millers in La Ramona in eastern Venezuela, near the Brazilian border.
The government has granted 12 private companies permissions to build 30 processing plants, which use sophisticated equipment to extract gold-bearing sand from nearby mines, sources said. Most are already up and running. ...
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