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Bruno Pacheco – Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The Court of Auditors of the Union (TCU) was triggered this weekend by the Public Ministry of Auditors (MPC) to investigate the possible omission of the supervisory bodies to combat illegal mining on the Madeira, region near the municipality of Autazes (113 kilometers from Manaus). In the region, at least 600 rafts of miners formed, in recent weeks, a “floating village” in an attempt to find precious stones, such as gold.

Without licensing or any kind of inspection, the illegal activity has grown so exponentially that it has caught the attention of the international media, and has been reflected in newspapers such as The Guardian. The tabloid even compared the incessant search for the gold to the movie “Mad Max”. To combat the exploitation, the MPC asks that the investigation be directed to the actions of the Federal Police (PF) and the Brazilian Navy, because the control and supervision of the region are under the responsibility of the Union.

Read also: The Guardian compares the invasion of prospectors in the Amazon to the movie Mad Max

On Friday, 26, after meeting with the Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Anderson Torres, in Brasilia (DF), governor Wilson Lima (PSC) also formalized a request for support from the National Security Force in combating illegal mining in the Amazon, which occurs near the Rosarinho community, located on the Madeira, between the Amazon municipalities of Autazes and Nova Olinda do Norte.

Wilson Lima put at the disposal of the federal government the security and rescue forces of Amazonas, as well as state agencies linked to the environment, to act in the area, together with federal agencies. The request for help comes even after the miners have begun to disperse from the area where they were installed.


This Saturday, 27, illegal mining on the Rio Madeira began to be combated with the Federal Police’s (PF) Operation Uiara, in conjunction with Ibama, the Navy and Air Force, which culminated in the destruction of at least 30 rafts that were abandoned. Besides the boats, machinery, mercury and gold were seized by the agents. Videos released by the miners and captured by residents showed moments of the fire on the rafts on the Madeira.

The rafts functioned as houses for the miners, with cafeteria, air-conditioning, internet via satellite and the dredge working 24 hours a day. On social networks, it is common to see requests for people to work with the dredges or as cooks on the boats.

Besides being illegal, the activity is harmful to health, especially to traditional peoples who live as river dwellers and have the Madeira water as a means of subsistence. The risk with illegal mining occurs through the use of mercury which, when dispersed in the water to facilitate the search for gold, contaminates the environment and can cause serious complications for both animals and humans who ingest the liquid from the region.