- In the Peruvian Madre de Dios area, where the documentary RIVER OF GOLD was filmed, approximately 90% of the gold is mined illegally, following no regulations.
- In many mining operations the miners use mercury to separate the gold from other materials. The excess mercury is burned away from the amalgam releasing toxic fumes into the air. It is estimated that 30 tons of toxic mercury are released into the Madre de Dios ecosystem every year.
- Mercury is widely considered one of the most toxic metals to human health and the environment. Mercury contamination causes severe disorders of the brain and central nervous system and can also poison the lungs, kidneys, and liver.
- The Madre de Dios area is situated in the headwaters of the Amazon, one of the most important and biodiverse places in the world. This area is currently being destroyed by miners, who are driven to this area by poverty in hopes of a better life.