This is what illegal mining in the Amazon looks like

Illegal mining in the Amazon – a threat to local communities’ health and livelihoods – continues to advance in the region. Last week, rumours that gold was found in the Madeira River, in the south of the Amazon, caused hundreds of rafts to head to the region, causing panic to those who know how destructive the mining is to the rivers of the Amazon.

The unusual movement caught the attention of the local population and showed how the miners operate on the Madeira River: without any discretion or concern the illegal exploitation of gold would make the authorities take any action. The rafts were located in the city of Autazes, 110km from Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas state. The invasion of miners in the region was documented by Greenpeace Brazil last Tuesday, 23 November, which confirmed the illegal activity.

The miners came from other cities in the Amazon such as Humaitá, where they count on the support of businessmen and politicians who have been promoting this illegal activity for many years. However, the exploration was met with concern about the environmental damage that causes to the health and livelihoods of those who depend on the river, since mining for gold releases mercury and contaminates the water.

Questioned by the press, both the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (Ipaam) – reported that they were aware of what was happening and were investigating. But with Bolsonaro’s administration stripping down resources from such government bodies and enabling the destruction of the environment, illegal miners feel empowered to carry on with little concern.

Source: Greenpeace