Environment Governor of Pará, Helder Barbalho, institutes the Day of the Miner in the state that has the most illegal activity

Artwork shows Helder Barbalho's photo of an aerial record of a large area of garimpo in the interior of Pará. (Art: Catarine Hak/ Cenarium)

Luís Henrique Oliveira – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – Even though the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and the Mining Observatory confirm that there has been an increase in illegal activities as of 2019, in Pará, with a level of deforestation much higher than in previous decades, and in the midst of the most critical moment in the country, where miners have declared war on indigenous peoples in Indigenous Territories and still with the Temporal Landmark being voted in the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Governor Helder Barbalho sanctioned last Monday, 25, the Law 9. 334, which establishes the Day of the Miner in the State of Pará, to be celebrated every December 11.

Check out an excerpt from the Official Journal published on Wednesday, 28th, about the law that establishes the Day of the Miner. (Reproduction)

For Carlos Durigan, Master in Ecology from the National Institute for Amazon Research (Inpa) and director of the Wildlife Conservation Association (WCS Brasil), before proposing to celebrate the Day of the Miner, “public administrators should focus their efforts on the debate and planning of mining activities that currently constitute a major source of environmental and social problems in the Amazon”, says the specialist.

According to the document “Environmental Guidelines for the Mining Sector”, in technical terms, the mineral extraction activity that is defined as “mining” itself encompasses the activities of research, mining and processing of minerals, and is characterized by the existence of a plan for the economic use of a known mineral body.

But it turns out that clandestine mines in the interior of Pará, especially in the cities of Altamira, Itaituba, Jacareacanga, Novo Progresso, São Félix do Xingu and Trairão, as pointed out by the Federal Police (PF), are mainly extracting gold and copper. Also according to the Observatory, there are also indigenous people who practice illegal mining, based on the treacherous co-optation of miners into the practice, while there are Kayapó leaders who are against the practice and are active in combating illegal activities.

Garimpos no Pará adotam escavadeiras e amplificam destruição – RAISG
A miner works in a mine in Pará. (Promotion)

A story published by Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this month showed that almost 49 tons of the metal extracted in Brazil between 2019 and 2020 came from irregular mining, controlled by a few companies, some of which have already been sued in court. Several factors – political or economic – encourage illegal exploitation in indigenous or protected Amazonian lands.

According to the WWF-Brazil’s director of conservation and restoration, Edgar de Oliveira, the social and environmental impact of the activity is very extensive. On average, the extraction of 100 grams of gold generates the deforestation of 14 hectares. In the Amazon, mining as a whole was responsible for the deforestation of approximately 1.2 million hectares between 2005 and 2015.

“This deforestation reduces the possibility of developing responsible resource management activities, in addition to contributing to the worsening of the climate crisis”, he says, noting that the problem also severely impacts human and wildlife populations, which maintain the balance of the forest.