Five of the seven gold exploration fronts in one of the most preserved areas in the Amazon, authorized by General Augusto Heleno, are within a stretch of the Rio Negro that cuts through two indigenous lands, where 11 ethnic groups live.
The liberated areas are on islands or in the river’s own waters, bordered side by side by demarcated territories.
At the request of the leaf, Ipam (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) analyzed the geographic coordinates of the projects authorized by Heleno, minister of the GSI (Institutional Security Office) of the Presidency and executive secretary of the National Defense Council.
The data analyzed are public and are part of the processes at the ANM (National Mining Agency).
The maps produced by Ipam reveal that the GSI minister allowed the advance of gold mining in a stretch of river that bathes two practically untouched indigenous lands: Médio Rio Negro 1 and Médio Rio Negro 2.
In both spaces live 3,300 indigenous people, according to a database updated by ISA (Instituto Socioambiental). They are from the Arapaso, Baniwa, Baré, Dâw, Desana, Koripako, mirity-tapuya, pira-tapuya, tariana, tukano and yuhupde ethnic groups.
The Constitution prohibits mining on indigenous land. This type of exploration is only possible if there is authorization by Congress, which did not happen.
The Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government wants to release mining in these lands. For that, in 2020 it sent a bill to Congress that regulates the authorization to be given. The proposal is stalled at the Chamber.
The MPF (Federal Public Ministry) suspects that Heleno’s actions seek to prepare the ground for the release of mining on indigenous lands.
To enable gold exploration to advance in an almost untouched region, the GSI assumed that river areas are not formally part of the demarcated land.
“In the regions under discussion, the Funai databases were consulted [Fundação Nacional do Índio], MMA [Ministério do Meio Ambiente] and ANM [Agência Nacional de Mineração], which do not point to the Rio Negro, as well as the islands that exist on it, as indigenous lands or conservation units,” stated the GSI, in a statement.
“There was no approval from the GSI for the advancement of mining in indigenous lands. The Constitution is faithfully fulfilled by the GSI”, said the organ of the Presidency.
Funai did not respond to the article’s questions about the relationship between the stretch of the Rio Negro and the Médio Rio Negro 1 and Médio Rio Negro 2 lands.
In addition to the five fronts on the river that divide the two territories, the largest area released by the GSI — of 9,676 hectares — advances through another territory of the Union, despite the responsible enterprise having informed that the exploration of gold would take place in “third-party property”.
Ipam maps show a rural property, but the extension of the area includes a preserved area of the Union.
Technicians from the institute, a non-governmental scientific research organization, found that there is a CAR (Rural Environmental Registry) record for the area, attached to the Pico da Neblina National Park. This would mean an attempt to take over an area that is public, which is irregular.
“The mining process is currently in a regular phase, according to an analysis made in the process received from the ANM. The GSI used the MMA database, which did not indicate any overlap with the Pico da Neblina National Park,” stated the ministry commanding by General Heleno.
The maps produced by Ipam do not provide the exact location of the seventh area authorized by the GSI minister.
Report published by leaf on the 5th of this month, he revealed the authorizations given by Heleno for the advancement of gold mining in the extreme northwest of the Amazon, one of the most preserved places in the Amazon. It’s the first time this has happened in at least ten years.
In the region, known as Cabeça do Cachorro, is São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), the most indigenous city in Brazil. Indigenous people from 23 ethnic groups live in this part of the Amazon biome.
It is up to the GSI minister, as a representative of the National Defense Council, to say yes or no to mining projects on the border, with a width of up to 150 kilometers.
Since the publication of the article by leaf, parties and congressmen presented requests to the STF (Federal Supreme Court), PGR (Attorney General’s Office), MPF and Congress to overturn Heleno’s actions.
The MPF started to investigate the authorizations. Several indigenous organizations and associations, including those from the Rio Negro, refuted the acts.
The office of deputy Elias Vaz (PSB-GO) mapped the areas with conclusions similar to the analysis by Ipam and also found that the ANM denied authorizations to search for gold in neighboring areas on the Negro river, arguing that this is prohibited. type of exploration in indigenous land.
Vaz was the author of the request to summon Heleno to give explanations to the Financial Inspection and Control Commission of the Chamber. Congressmen approved an invitation to the minister.
The deputy and senator Jorge Kajuru (Podemos-GO) will file a writ of mandamus with the STF to try to overturn the authorizations given by the head of the GSI.
Rede Sustentabilidade and Partido Verde have already joined the STF with actions against Heleno’s actions.
The seven authorizations for the region of São Gabriel da Cachoeira cover an area of 12.7 thousand hectares. One of them, in addition to gold, allows research for niobium and tantalum. This development is what is pasted in Pico da Neblina Park.
For the entire Amazon, since the beginning of 2019, 81 authorizations have been granted to explore minerals, including research and mining. Only in 2021 there were 45, according to the acts of prior consent published in the Official Gazette of the Union until the last 2nd.
It is the highest amount in nine years, which should increase given the possibility of new acts by the end of the year.
The GSI minister released gold research for businessmen in areas embargoed by Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources). And also for a member of a miners cooperative who work with suction dredges in riverbeds in the Amazon.
The predominant technique in projects released at Cabeça do Cachorro is suction dredgers, according to the proposals attached to processes at the ANM. The ANM forwards these processes to the National Defense Council when the projects are in the border area.
“The Congress defines and authorizes activities on indigenous lands. Definition of a limit is Funai’s responsibility. The ANM guides the development of its institutional activities in accordance with the Brazilian legal system,” said the agency, in a statement.
Regarding the cooperative’s denials that wanted to explore areas adjacent to those authorized by the GSI, the ANM said that “there are a series of requirements to be met” and that “probably the cooperative did not meet the legally established requirements”.