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Gold of the Conquistadors

Tom Heap reports on a boom in mining for precious metals in South America, which is making some people very rich but placing a huge stress on the environment of the Andes.

Five hundred years ago the Spanish Conquistadors enslaved the population of South America in their desperate efforts to squeeze more gold and silver from the mines of Peru, Chile and Mexico.

Today the industry is booming again, driven by the global demand for copper and the rising price of precious metals. New technology has made the industry safer for workers but the sensitive environment of the Andes is under threat from the water demands of the mining process.

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