Environment Minister Yuviri Ortega said the country will not issue permits for any open-pit mines and will not allow either private or public companies to look for gold in the 3.8-million-hectare Imataca Forest Reserve. Because of ecological damage, Ortega said, the
government also was revising all its mining and timber concessions.
Currently benefitting from record oil-export prices, Venezuela believes it does not need to risk further harm to its environment with more mining and logging. Much of the country is unpopulated and home to diverse eco-systems, including a significant chunk of the Amazon
rain forest. The Imataca reserve, in the remote the southeast, sits on what is thought to be one of Latin America’s largest gold deposits.
Several large and mainly state-run companies dig iron ore, coal and bauxite in the country.
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