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Brazil steps up the fight against illicit gold mining

The new investment aims to consolidate security efforts and boost assistance to the country’s largest indigenous reservation, which has been plagued by the mines.

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UPDATED: 11 Jan 2024, 7:36 am

Brazilian authorities have committed to bolstering security in Yanomami territory – indigenous lands in the Brazil’s north long-plagued by illegal gold mining – following an emergency meeting on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

The government will invest 1.2 billion reais (US$245 million) this year in security and assistance efforts for Brazil’s largest indigenous reservation. Plans centre on the establishment of a local security headquarters that will house federal agencies fighting illicit mining.

Efforts to evict gold mining began early last year with a task force launched by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Since then, police have seized more than 600 million reais in illegally obtained gold and other items, made around 160 arrests and destroyed dozens of dredging barges used by miners on rivers.

[See more: Brazil is targeting illegal cattle ranchers in a landmark operation]

The Yanomami territory, a heavily forested area around the size of Portugal, has been invaded by the miners for decades but saw increasing destruction in recent years after far-right former President Jair Bolsanaro dismantled environmental protections.

In addition, the mercury pollution and deforestation caused by the mines have exacerbated malnutrition and disease in the region. Sexual abuse has also increased.

Some 31,000 people, mostly Yanomami with some members of the Ye’kwana community, live in the territory. Some of the new funding will go toward food distribution and the construction of a new health centre focused on indigenous medical needs.

UPDATED: 11 Jan 2024, 7:36 am

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