AFP Agency

Manaus, November 24, 2021Updated on 11/24/2021 08:55 pm

Hundreds of dredging boats with illegal miners sail in search of gold on the Madeira River, one of the main rivers in the Amazon of BrazilFollowing rumors of a recent discovery of this precious metal, Greenpeace denounced this Wednesday.

The federal police were preparing an operation to stop the more than 300 vessels, a number that could be much higher according to the environmental organization, dedicated to illegal extraction in the tributary of the Amazon Riverreported the newspaper Estadão, citing sources from the Ministry of Justice.

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Greenpeace images show the lines of boats, arranged one next to the other, advancing across the bed of the Madeira river, following rumors of a find near the community of Rosarinho, in Autazes, state of Amazonas (northwest).

Although it is a clandestine activity of public knowledge in that area, the “atypical” movement in the area of ​​that municipality located about 100 km from the city of Manaus caught the attention of the residents, said Greenpeace, who demanded greater speed to authorities to stop this “environmental crime.”

According to the organization, the images prove that the ‘garimpeiros’ (as illegal miners are called) “dominate” the area, and circulate there “without fear and without being inconvenienced.”

Photo published by Greenpeace showing mining vessels in the Madeira River, near the Rosarinho community, in Autazes, Amazonas state, Brazil, on November 23, 2021. (BRUNO KELLY / GREENPEACE / AFP).
Photo published by Greenpeace showing mining vessels in the Madeira River, near the Rosarinho community, in Autazes, Amazonas state, Brazil, on November 23, 2021. (BRUNO KELLY / GREENPEACE / AFP).

The Superintendency of the federal police in Amazonas told Estadão that “inter-institutional talks” are being developed to define a course of action.

An audio published by that medium and attributed to an illegal miner indicates that they are already aware of the police action: “A convoy is leaving Manaus”warns a male voice. Another audio speaks of mounting a “wall” of rafts to prevent any control.

Photo published by Greenpeace showing mining vessels in the Madeira River, near the Rosarinho community, in Autazes, Amazonas state, Brazil, on November 23, 2021. (BRUNO KELLY / GREENPEACE / AFP).
Photo published by Greenpeace showing mining vessels in the Madeira River, near the Rosarinho community, in Autazes, Amazonas state, Brazil, on November 23, 2021. (BRUNO KELLY / GREENPEACE / AFP).

A report from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) together with the Federal Public Ministry (MPF, prosecutor’s office) revealed last July that only 34% of the 174 tons of gold exploited between 2019 and 2020 in Brazil have proven legal origin.

The government of the far-right Jair Bolsonaro is accused by environmentalists and opponents of carrying out an anti-environmentalist policy and weakening environmental control mechanisms.

Since he came to power in January 2019, there has been a considerable increase in deforestation in the Amazon, mainly attributed to illegal mining and livestock activities.

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