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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Gold

Brazilian forces combat illegal gold mining in the Amazon

Brazil cracks down on illegal Amazon gold mining to protect biodiversity and curb deforestation

Gold price rises as investors retreat to safe haven on Yemen airstrikes
Photo from Zlaťáky.cz via Unsplash

In response to the escalating threat of wildcat gold mining in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s Federal Police have taken action. They have initiated a series of operations to combat this pressing issue.

These operations are conducted in collaboration with the government’s biodiversity conservation agency ICMBio. The crackdown aims to curb the expansion of destructive mining activities that have encroached from Indigenous lands into government-protected conservation areas.

The recent operations in the Amazon rain forest involved armed officers from ICMBio. They targeted wildcat camps along the upper reaches of the Tapajos, a major tributary of the Amazon River. Actions included setting fire to barges used for ore processing, seizing weapons, radios, and scales employed by miners.

Illegal gold mining poses a significant environmental threat, contributing to deforestation and hampering the rainforest’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases. The leftist government, led by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has intensified efforts to combat mining activities, especially in Indigenous reservations. This is a stark reversal of the policies pursued by Lula’s predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro faced global criticism for relaxing environmental controls and allowing unchecked logging and mining in the Amazon.

President Lula has pledged to eradicate illegal mining and end deforestation by 2030, emphasizing a commitment to environmental preservation. However, the increased enforcement in Indigenous territories has led some miners to seek out less regulated forests, evading government scrutiny.

Crackdown in Urupadi

During a recent mission into the Urupadi National Forest, ICMBio agents detained wildcat miners, destroyed their camps, and confiscated equipment. The miners had razed large portions of the jungle and created ponds for gold dredging, using mercury to separate the precious metal from sand and ore. This particular practice poisons the rivers’ fish.

In a three-week operation, ICMBio agents discovered 20 mining sites and 11 clandestine airstrips in the forest, along with significant amounts of mercury and diesel. Despite these efforts, some miners expressed dissatisfaction with the increased enforcement. They claim that previous government leniency allowed them to operate freely.

One detained miner, Fabio Santos, revealed that he had relocated from Munduruku territory due to law enforcement operations and conflicts with Indigenous communities. Ramon Marques, another miner, lamented, “Things are going downhill with the new government.” His statement suggests a perceived decline in their ability to exploit gold resources.

As the government intensifies its crackdown on illegal mining, the environmental impact and the complex relationship between economic interests and conservation efforts continue to be at the forefront of Brazil’s environmental policy debate.

Read more: G Mining Ventures secures 100% renewable energy for Brazillian gold project

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