The vessels began arriving at the site 15 days ago, when information emerged that there was gold

The Brazilian Public Ministry (MP) on Thursday called for the adoption of “measures for the immediate interruption of illicit activities” on the Madeira River, in the Amazon, invaded by hundreds of rafts and dredgers for the illegal extraction of gold.

The MP gave a period of 30 days and addressed his request to the Brazilian Army, the Federal Police in Amazonas, the Navy unit responsible for the Madeira River, the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (Ipaam), the Brazilian Environmental Institute and from Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), to the National Mining Agency (ANM) in Amazonas, among others.

According to the MP, the bodies must proceed with the identification and administrative assessment of all irregular projects in operation or with signs of operation in the recent past on the Madeira River or tributaries, in addition to adopting measures for the “immediate interruption of illegal activities, including by destroying the instruments of crime, if necessary”.

The Madeira River, located in the Brazilian Amazon, has been invaded in recent days by hundreds of rafts and dredgers used by those seeking to extract illegal gold in the region, as reported on Thursday by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Greenpeace.

According to the environmental NGO, more than 600 boats are located on the Madeira River, in the state of Amazonas, aiming at the search for gold, in an “illegal activity that generates several damages to the river and to the local population”.

Also according to Greenpeace, the ferries “operate without any environmental license, in daylight, without being disturbed by anyone”.

The vessels began arriving at the site 15 days ago, when information emerged that there was gold near the Rosário community, in the municipality of Autazes, in Amazonas.

In this mining process, the vessels turn the river bottom, suck the material to filter the gold and then return the water, in a process that is harmful to the environment.

“Given the scale of the ‘garimpeiro invasion’, the efficient repression of the activity necessarily requires coordinated efforts from different government agencies”, highlighted the MP, adding that the extraction of gold in the region is not supported by an environmental license issued by the competent environmental authority or by the National Mining Agency, which makes this activity illegal.

In a statement, the Federal Police said it was monitoring the case and that it “will establish the best strategies to face the problem” in order to prevent environmental damage.

Illegal gold mining is leaving a trail of destruction and mercury contamination in the Amazon.

Miners have increased Amazon invasions on indigenous lands in Brazil since the beginning of the government presided over by Jair Bolsonaro, which introduced a bill to legalize mining on indigenous reserves.

According to the Brazilian police, illegal mining in the Amazon causes serious damage to the environment through the use of highly harmful products that pollute rivers and generate a series of social problems and conflicts between Indians and miners.

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