‘It will be quantified by the expertise,’ says Federal Police on environmental damage caused by clandestine mining in an Indigenous Land in Pará

According to the Federal Police, the mining camps were inside an "isolated area", "generating enormous discontent among the inhabitants of the closest village [about 30 kilometers from the site]" (Reproduction/Federal Police/Pará)

Iury Lima – Cenarium Magazine

VILHENA (RO) – Installations of illegal gold miners were dismantled by the Federal Police (PF), in Pará, inside the Indigenous Land of the Kayapó people. The clandestine extraction of gold was taking place in three mining areas inside the reserve, in a region about 160 kilometers from the municipality of São Félix do Xingu. The crackdown on the environmental crime took place last Saturday, September 7, but was only made public this Monday, September 9. An onslaught against the threat posed by mining to the traditional population of approximately 4.5 thousand people.

According to the Federal Police, the mining camps offered significant risk to the indigenous people, since they were inside an “isolated area”, “generating enormous discontent among the inhabitants of the nearest village [about 30 kilometers from the site]”. The irregularities were denounced to the police and the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) of Pará at the beginning of April.


The action, which was part of the ‘Operation Biome Guardians’, had the support of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the National Force.

The operation involved agents from the Federal Police, Ibama, Funai and the National Force (Reprodução/Polícia Federal/PA)

Imminent risk

The Federal Police categorized the operation as an “incursion”; a kind of “onslaught” or “attack” on organized crime that specializes in degrading the environment for profit. Like the police, the MPF also understood that there was “risk of intervention by indigenous people [dissatisfied with the invasion of the territory] and of a confrontation against the miners,” the Federal Police pointed out in a statement.

To gain access to the site, the agents used a helicopter from Ibama’s Air Operations Center (Coaer), due to the impossibility of land access because of the terrain conditions.

“In the action three clandestine gold mines were closed, three hydraulic excavators (PCs), several engines and structures that supported the miners were rendered useless, in addition to the seizure of documents and mercury, a highly polluting liquid metal,” said the Federal Police.

Federal Police destroyed excavators and equipment used to support the miners (Reproduction/Federal Police/Pará)

“The illegal mining activity represents a health risk to workers through the indiscriminate use of mercury, pollutes riverbeds, and causes irreparable damage to the fauna and flora of the affected site,” added.

To CENARIUM, the Federal Police also informed that the environmental damage will be quantified by an expert, aiming at the “compensation coming from the offenders”. If convicted, the suspects will answer for usurpation of federal property, mining without license or authorization, and storage, transport or illegal marketing of toxic and harmful substance to human health or the environment.

It’s nothing new

The pace of environmental degradation and the constant threat to traditional peoples is not something new in Pará, since the state is recurrently among the leaders in deforestation in the Legal Amazon territory.

According to MapBiomas, the federative unit had more than 60 thousand deforestation alerts, in the last three years, registered by official and non-governmental organizations for monitoring Brazilian ecosystems, of which only 1.8% were inspected. Comparing the whole deforested area in this period, between January 2019 and March 2022, the inspection reached only 9.8% of the territories.

Already last April, Pará was the second Amazon state that had the most vegetation areas in the path of illegal burning and felling: 286 square kilometers, according to the National Institute for Special Research (Inpe).


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