The Gold Rush attracts hundreds of dredging rafts to the Amazon tributary – News Couple

The Gold Rush attracts hundreds of dredging rafts to the Amazon tributary

AUTAIZ, Brazil, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Hundreds of dredging rafts run by illegal miners gather in a gold rush on the Madeira River, a major tributary of the Amazon rainforest, floating hundreds of miles as state and federal authorities squabble over who is responsible for that. stop them.

A fleet of pumped-up pontoons are moored together in lines that stretch roughly across the vast Madeira, and a Reuters witness saw exhaust plumes suggesting they were brushing the riverbed in search of gold.

“We have counted at least 300 rafts. They have spent at least two weeks and the government has done nothing,” said Danielle Aguiar, an activist with Brazil’s Greenpeace organization.

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The gold rush, sparked by rumors of gold being found there, began when world leaders gathered at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, where Brazil pledged to step up protection of the Amazon rainforest. Read more

However, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has weakened environmental law enforcement since taking office in 2019, turning a blind eye to the invasion of protected public and indigenous lands by illegal loggers, ranchers and wild gold miners.

The Madeira River flows about 2,000 miles (3,300 km) from its source in Bolivia through the rainforests of Brazil and into the Amazon River.

Dredging rafts floated downriver from the Humaita region, where there has been a spike in illegal gold mining, and were last seen 400 miles (650 km) away in Autazes, a municipal area southeast of Manaus.

A spokesman for Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency Ibama said the illegal dredging of the Madeira River was not the responsibility of the federal government but rather the state of Amazonas and its environment agency, IPAAM.

The boats moored on the river are under federal jurisdiction, IPAAM said in a statement, so the National Mining Agency (ANM) was responsible for licensing and it was up to the federal police to find out if any crimes had been committed. The river traffic and pollution are the marine area, Ibam said.

ANM said it did not fall under its purview as it only oversaw legal mining, while criminal activity was in the purview of the police and courts.

The Federal Police said it was looking into the best way to deal with the problem and prevent environmental damage.

“It’s free for everyone. None of the authorities are doing anything to stop illegal mining, which has become an epidemic in the Amazon,” said Aguiar of Greenpeace Brazil.

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(Reporting by Bruno Kelly) Written by Anthony Boudl Editing by Brad Haines and Aurora Ellis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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