International appetite for gold drives illegal gold panning in Brazil

Posted on Oct 27, 2020 at 6:17 PM

The new gold rush has resulted in a new surge in illegal mining activities in the Amazon. “Unfortunately, we cannot deny the facts, but we are counting on the government so that illegal gold panning is combated”, says Flavio Penido of the Brazilian Institute of Mining Industry (Ibram). However, rather than fight these activities, the current government tabled in Congress, last February, a bill authorizing mining activities in the territories reserved for the Amerindians.

“In many indigenous areas, there are illegal mining activities that damage the environment, Bento Albuquerque, Minister of Mines and Energy, recently acknowledged in an interview with the foreign press. What we want is a law that legalizes activities within a framework of sustainable development. ” But President Bolsonaro himself defended the gold miners in the Pará region, a major gold producer. “They are not bandits. They deserve our full consideration ”, he said last year after receiving a delegation of these gold diggers at the presidential palace.

The legalization of clandestine gold mines in indigenous territory, and of mining activities in general, remains a thorny issue. On the one hand, Ibram assures us that the Brazilian constitution allows such legalization, but that it “It is up to Congress to decide this question. ”

Complicity of brokerage companies

Some see it as a development opportunity for the very poor populations of this region. Others deplore the pollution of rivers with mercury. The many clandestine gold mines are protected by heavily armed men (some have even threatened to shoot an army helicopter which was flying over Amerindian territory last August). The production is then “laundered” with the complicity of certain brokerage companies. So many practices that fuel the gold fever.

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