An insight into the Orinoco mining Arc: its implications for Venezuela and the Eastern Caribbean

Background information for this symposium can be found on the Orinoco Mining Arc Media Page

We invite you to view the resulting CONFERENCE STATEMENT, prepared by attendees of LACCCB 2018 after the presentation of the symposium “An Insight into the Orinoco Mining Arc: its implications for Venezuela and the eastern Caribbean”, organized by the Venezuelan Society of Ecology, and voted on at the LACA member’s meeting.

Special media event: Click image for more media links

Special media event: Click image for more media links

An insight into the Orinoco mining Arc: its implications for Venezuela and the Eastern Caribbean

Please see the Projected Itinerary for this symposium

Background: Please see history and perspectives on the Orinoco Mining Arc Media Page

Summary: The ecological influence of the Venezuelan Guyana is regional. Its rainy forests produce oxygen and are carbón reservoirs, the Orinoco flows determine ecological processes in the Atlantic and eastern Caribbean. These are a few reasons why knowing the implications of the ZDEN-AMO is necessary

Ms. Vilisa I. Morón-Zambrano. Chair of Venezuelan Society of Ecology. Venezuela

Co-organiser 1: Francoise Cabada-Blanco


Description: The southern Orinoco harbors one of the greatest biodiversity wealth of Venezuela. This is the result of the geologic–it is one of the most ancient places on Earth- and climatic history of the area, which have promoted biogeographic processes that generated a heterogeneous landscape. This diversity is also found in the aboriginal groups, with at least 20 recognized etnies such as the Waraos, Pemon, Y’kwana, and Añiu. Additionally, the influence of the Orinoco river upon ecological processes in the Atlantic and eastern Caribbean, through its delta, has been very well documented. This cultural and ecological heritage is on the brink of being irreversibly modified or even destroyed. In 2016, a national strategic development zone of 11,0000 ha, was opened for the exploitation of metals and rare-earth elements in the Venezuelan Guyana by a presidential decree. This zone overlaps with the area with the greatest diversity of rainy forests of the country. It is known for the fragility and acidity of its soils, as well as by the -until then-, protection level of most of the watersheds of the third river in the world in terms of discharge: the Orinoco. What kind and how many environmental and social liabilities for Venezuela and the eastern Caribbean will this strategic development zone, known as the ZDEN-AMO, produce? Through this symposium we will address some of the social and environmental implications of big-scale unplanned mining activities, in contrast with the characteristics of well-planned and implemented mining, emphasizing environmental liabilities, the management of threatened ecosystems, its influence on coastal-marine systems, as well as the vision and role of indigenous groups within the ZDEN-AMO territory.


Keywords: open-sky mining, biodiversity, Orinoco Mining Arc, Guayana, Deforestation, indigenous people


Justification: Venezuela’s current socio-economic reality makes the southern Orinoco, and attractive área for national and international investment in mining ventures, forest and fauna exploitation. Should these ventures be ill-managed, they threat one of the most biodiverse areas of the country and the world. Additionally, knowing the Orinoco’s influence on ecological processes in the eastern Caribbean and the cultural importance of the area as a relic of our aboriginal groups, we have the duty of understanding and conserving this natural capital for Venezuela and the Caribbean region in order to secure development within a sustainable framework through empowering of the general public.


Symposium Length: 6 - Presentations total

Presentation 1: Environmental and Social Aspects Associated with the various types of mining in the Venezuelan Guayana

José R. Lozada

Universidad de Los Andes, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Ambientales


Presentation 2: Deforestation in the Venezuelan Amazon and the advancement of illegal mining

Juan C. Amilibia



Presentation 3: Exploring the Mining Arc

Bram Ebus



Presentation 4: The Orinoco Mining Arc and the Caribbean: possible impacts over marine ecological processes

Francoise Cabada-Blanco

Universidad Simón Bolívar


Presentation 5: Orinoco mining Arc’s impact on Venezuela’s indigenous people

Iokiñe Rodriguez

Environment and Development School of International Development (DEV) University of East Angllia


Presentation 6: Risk of ecosystem collapse under different scenarios of management as a measure of conservation opportunities and challenges

José R. Ferrer-Paris

Centro de Estudios Botánicos y Agroforestales, IVIC