Living in the Shadow of a Gold Rush

Collection with 27 media items created by Transterra Editor

09 Sep 2013 09:00

La Rinconada was a nice, quiet rural village in Peru’s Los Andes range twenty years ago. However, the economic crisis in the country and the discovery of gold changed the town completely during the nineties. Now, it is a crowded place where thousands of the poor from all over South America frequently immigrate looking for opportunity. The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services. The increase in the price of gold (25% last year and 600% in ten years) has pushed many more people to move up there.

Nowadays, the landscape in La Rinconada is full of metallic shelters built without official permits. There is no pavement, sewers and running water. It is full of rubbish and defecation everywhere. It is now a place with serious problems of alcoholism, drugs and crime. The police is nearly absent and illegal prostitution is always present. The use of mercury to separate gold from rock has created a high level of pollution that provokes aggressiveness among the population. This, added to the fact that La Rinconada is about 6,000 meters altitude, causes also breath sicknesses (especially among children) and the local clinic covers just 10% of the needs. Despite some apparent efforts of the local administration, the situation is getting worse year by year.

Photos and Text by Albert González Farran.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 1
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) takes a rest outside her shelter in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 2
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

La Rinconada: "Pallaqueras" (women who select stones from the mine dumps) go to work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 3
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 4
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps) prepares a shot of an alcoholic drink during a break in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 5
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps) smokes cigarettes during a break in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 6
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) works in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 7
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) inspects some stones in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 8
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 9
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a man who selects stones from the mine dumps) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 10
La Rinconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
29 Sep 2009

Pallaqueras (women who select stones from the mine mines looking for remains of gold) are pictured during their work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 11
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
29 Sep 2009

29 September 2009. Two miners drive stones wagons to the mine dumps in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 12
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
19 Jan 2013

Pallaqueras (women who select stones from the mine dumps looking for remains of gold) are pictured at work in a mining area in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 13
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

"Pallaqueras" (women who select stones from the mine dumps) attend the afternoon briefing with their colleagues and the engineers of Corporación Minera Ananea in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 14
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
13 Jan 2013

A miner, on his way from work, crosses the main gate that connects the village with the goldmines, in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 15
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A miner guides a truck inside a goldmine in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 16
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

An exhausted miner after drilling takes a rest and cleans his dirty face, while chewing coca leaf, inside a goldmine in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 17
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

Two "Pallaqueras" (women who select stones from the mine dumps) takes their selection back home at the end of the workday in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 18
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
24 Jan 2013

Cerro Lunar: Vanesa Canesa is photographed with her daughter Ana Paula in front of their little house, made with stones and "calamina" (metal layer), in Cerro Lunar, Ananea, Peru. Vanesa is a miner's wife and she used to support her husband working on "Pallaqueo" (collecting stones thrown from the mines looking for gold) and now she quit due to health reasons.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 19
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
26 Jan 2013

A central street in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.
La Rinconada was a nice, quiet rural village in Peru’s Los Andes range twenty years ago. However, the economic crisis in the country and the discovery of gold changed the town completely during the nineties. Now, it is a crowded place where thousands of the poor from all over South America frequently immigrate looking for opportunity. The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 20
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
23 Jan 2013

Left to right, Lucy Callpacruz and Norma Quispe (with her two children Eduardo Cristian and Chantal Ochoqui), both miner's wives, are pictured in their little house made with "calamina" (metal layer) in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru. Lucy has nine children and she is from Putina. From time to time, Lucy and Norma support their husbands working as "Pallaqueos" (selecting stones from the mine dumps looking for gold).

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 21
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
13 Jan 2013

People play football under the snow in a neighborhood in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 22
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
16 Jan 2013

Former miner Filomeno Quispe (35 years old) working at his bakery and also his family bedroom in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 23
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
12 Jan 2013

Former miner Filomeno Quispe (35 years old) working at his bakery in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru. Quispe had no academic education and before coming to La Rinconada in 2004, he used to work in many different jobs (taxi driver, baker, builder...). During his first years working at the mines, he used to spend all money in alcohol and prostitutes, until his wife Ruth showed up with their two children. For health reasons (he has not enough oxygen in his blood), he has to leave the mines and joined her wife in her business. They currently run a grocery, a bakery and a small stand of juices in the main square.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 24
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
21 Jan 2013

A child is dressed by her mother after being assisted by a doctor at the health center in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru. Most of the children in La Rinconada suffer malnutrition and problems of growth due to cold weather and pollution.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 25
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
20 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps looking for gold) is pictured at work in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 26
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
17 Jan 2013

A "Pallaquera" (a woman who selects stones from the mine dumps) takes her selection back home at the end of the workday in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.

Thumb sm
La Rinconada, into the gold's bubble 27
La RInconada, Peru
By Albert Gonzalez Farran
29 Sep 2009

Engineer Wilfredo Menéndez shows a piece of gold in his office in the headquarters of Corporación Minera Ananea, the company that owns all goldmines in La Rinconada, Ananea, Peru.