This aerial view of the Timbiqui River, with signs of the illegal mining of gold, is seen on August 9, 2016 near the municipality of Guapi, departament of Cauca, Colombia. / AFP / LUIS ROBAYO
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Opposition lawmakers in Colombia have proposed a bill that aims to cut the use of mercury and other toxic chemicals in illegal gold mining, that has polluted rivers and blighted the ancestral lands of indigenous tribes.Colombia has one of the highest rates of mercury contamination in the Americas. A study this year by Colombia's Externado University found 60 percent of all mining operations in Colombia are illegal and said 180 tonnes of mercury are dumped every year.Most affected by mercury contamination are Colombia's indigenous tribes and Afro-Colombian communities whose ancestral lands are rich in gold reserves, particularly those living in the rainforest province of Choco on Colombia's Pacific coast.
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