‘Our people are still suffering’: Brazil’s operations against illegal mining camps – by Jonathan Watts (The Guardian – August 15, 2023)


Like mechanised Valkyries, nine helicopters filled with armed men and women in camouflage uniforms swoop over dense forests and remote rivers – but this is not a scene from Apocalypse Now, it is a Brazilian government mission to forestall catastrophe in the Amazon rainforest.

The aircraft from the country’s two main environmental agencies, Ibama and ICMBio, fly for hours above the Tapajós basin, then break formation when they approach their targets: illegal goldmining camps that are contaminating the waters and earth of the forest.

As the helicopters descend in a cloud of dust, the surprised prospectors flee, abandoning their excavators, dredges and high-pressure pumps. The environmental agents leap out and secure a perimeter, then set fire to every piece of equipment and every drop of fuel.

Plumes of thick, black smoke billow up into the sky, a signal that illegal mining will no longer be permitted in conservation parks, Indigenous territories and other areas under the protection of the state. The agents then fly off to refuel and move on to the next target.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/15/brazil-operations-against-mining-camps-amazon-rainforest