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Article

Brazil: Gold miners illegally clearing forests and polluting rivers in indigenous territories throughout the pandemic

"Goldminers overrun Amazon indigenous lands as COVID-19 surges", 30th July 2020

...Thousands of miners in search of gold within Brazil’s Amazon Indigenous Territories (TIs) and Conservation Units (UCs), are illegally clearing forests and polluting rivers at an alarming rate in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — more than 88,000 Brazilians are dead of the pandemic, with more than 430,000 cases reported in the Amazon as of 28 July.

As the miners wreak havoc on the environment and terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, they also act as potential vectors for the coronavirus, which has already infected at least 14,647 indigenous people and caused 269 deaths on indigenous lands, according to a report by the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), a Brazilian NGO. Some indigenous people have even been pressured, or coerced via death threats, to provide labor to carry out this illegal activity, ISA says...

The Amazon gold rush has been exacerbated by the country’s greatly weakened environmental protections — ordered by Bolsonaro and executed by Environment Minister Ricardo Salles — which has triggered a marked increase in deforestation due to illegal mining in protected areas. In the first six months of this year, according to alerts from the National Space Research Institute, INPE’s Deter satellite monitoring system, deforestation by mining within conserved areas represented 67.9% of total tree loss in Legal Amazonia, a socio-geographic designation including all or parts of nine states in the Brazilian Amazon...