Hundreds of years of mining and processing of metal ores have left large volumes of waste and tailings in the arid, highly elevated regions of southern Bolivia. Sulphur, heavy metals and arsenic leak from the mine areas into streams and rivers leaving the water acid and strongly contaminated. The infrastructure maintained by former mining companies has collapsed, industrial ore processing has stopped, but local miners in 'Cooperativas- continue to extract ore under extremely unhealthy and poor conditions, and they live with their families in the polluted environment surrounding the mines.
On that background GEUS was sub-contracted by the Danish contract-holder Carl Bro International to assist in:
Evaluating the magnitude of the problems in the affected areas through studies of existing chemical analyses of water, stream sediment, soils and crops combined with geological and topographical studies.
Evaluating ways to remediate the environment, particularly the provision of clean water for household use and crop irrigation.
The project was carried out in 1999 and was funded by Danish International Development Assistance, Danida.