Garimpo invades Tapajós River basin
Garimpo invades Tapajós River basin
The risks pointed to the Tapajós River basin make it clear that the Amazon region, despite the increase in the rates of drop in deforestation, continues to be treated as the great storehouse of natural resources on the planet. The actions planned for the world’s largest river basin are not restricted to plans to build a string of plants into rivers. All it took was the Government report that part of the land that belonged to Amazon conservation units had been unlinked for protected areas that became the target of illegal extraction and mining shares.
The story is by André Borges and published by the newspaper value, 7/26/2012.
The pressure grew and the Chico Mendes Institute for biodiversity (ICMBio) has sought to control the situation and stop the entry of people in the region, but its performance was reduced, because it is restricted to protected areas. “With the appropriation (reduction) of the areas, a lot of people are stirring to enter the land. We received requests for prospectors and researchers for camping in the region, we are also receiving threats of invasion. The situation is very delicate, “says Maria Lucia Carvalho, head of the Amazon National Park, connected to ICMBio.
Recently, ICMBio autuou a ferry that was ready to start the gold prospecting in an area which, until two months ago, belonged to the reserve. “Were going to start taking gold in the region. When we could not do it, we were told that we had nothing to do with it, that that area did not belong more to the Park and that they would go ahead, “says Maria Lucia.
Sand extraction is another target. With the dry spell, which reaches the peak in September, several beaches appear on the banks of the River, with immense dunes of fine sand. “I’ve got two requests for removal of sand in the doBuburé region, within the National Park.”
Within the forest, were also detected outbreaks of exploitation of Palm and wood. “We warn that this could happen, but we were not heard,” says Maria Lucia. “Can’t shut me up about what is going on here. My criticism is technical, not political. “
The Ministry of mines and energy is ahead of a program to try to regularize the mining in the region, besides giving a solution to the chaos. The biggest concern of ICMBio, according to Robert Vizentin, President of the Institute, has been ensuring the security of protected areas. “Mining is allowed in some units, provided you adhere to the zoning of exploitation. The management plan indicates where it can be made on gold prospecting. However, we need to legalize these goldfields. Almost everything is illegal, “says Vizentin.
In Crepori national forest, for example, who missed part of the area to allow the environmental licensing of power plants, there are about 3 billion search requests and mineral mining. “Mining is one of the issues that most concern us in this region. The areas that will be affected by the dams are full of prospectors. When the projects are constructed and the Lake begin to occupy the areas, where will these prospectors? They will take what they can. This has to be controlled “, warns the President of ICMBio.
With the proliferation of mines, further increases the irregular occupation in a region already marked by land conflicts. It is estimated that only in the region of BR-163-between the Serra do Cachimbo and Itaituba, Pará – there are between 5 000 and 6 000 families who demand land regularization.
For decades, the Tapajós region is targeted by thousands of illegal miners in search of gold and diamond. After suffering an intense phase of the farm over the years 70 and 80, the farm was almost stagnant in the next two decades. In the last five years, however, the garimpo returned to bloom with full force, but in the worst possible way.
Local estimates indicate that there are currently about 60 thousand men working on the extraction of gold and diamonds in the Tapajos River basin. It is more than half of 110 thousand prospectors who are scattered throughout the Amazon. “This makes the Tapajós the largest mining of Brazil,” said Seme Sefrian, former Secretary of mining and environment in Itaituba.
Almost all of this battalion acts erratically, either using materials or machinery prohibited, either acting on protected drives or without any kind of authorization. Mercury, the raw material used to separate the gold from the Earth, follow straight to the Tapajós’s tributaries. The land, once washed with hoses “beak-Jet”, is not recovered, leaving behind huge mud craters.
To further complicate the situation, the miners were using backhoes to reach a depth of soil has not yet exploited. Until five years ago, this type of equipment, known as “PC”, did not exist in the region. Today, according to Sefrian, there are about 150 backhoes rolling lands every day in the basin of the Tapajós River.
The value caught ferries carrying the equipment by the River. Despite the total illegality, everything smoothly. The machinery is expensive. A new “PC”, with all the accoutrements, costs about $ 600,000, says former Secretary of Itaituba.
For those who are in the business, is worth the risk. The Tapajós River became the new eldorado. The region is producing half a tonne of gold per month, which represents $ 26, 4 million, according to the current price of the metal. Five years ago, the monthly volume hovered around 200 pounds. “The price has skyrocketed and the business returned to attract people,” contaSefrain.
In 2005, the price of an ounce of gold (31.10 grams) averaged US $ 445. In 2009, the share price doubled and reached $ 974 and never stopped rising. Today the price of ounce is $ 1,643. “The problem is that the exploitation today is happening very random. There is not much control of what is removed, produced or sold in the region. “
The business is so good that even Sefrain, the former Secretary of the environment, turned gold miner. Today, he has a “PC” and a wheel loader ready to get in on the action at Crepori conservation unit, between the South of Pará and northern Mato Grosso. Already hired 34 men and says that attempts to legalize the beginning of extraction.
“It is a difficult situation. Today, everyone works without authorisation for ploughing. But we must show to the population that the panning is good, “he says. “I couldn’t even authorization, but we are ready and let’s get to work. Our difficulty is the length of the State to regulate the exploitation. “