AM government authorization has an impact on indigenous land – 12/17/2022 – Environment

Ipaam (Institute for Environmental Protection of Amazonas), the Government of Amazonas responsible for environmental licenses and inspection, granted two authorizations for gold exploration –including the use of dredgers– in areas with impacts on indigenous lands, in one of the most preserved regions of the Amazon.

Operating licenses were issued for prospecting for gold in polygons close to traditional territories in the region known as dog’s headlocated in the northwest corner of the Amazonasin the border region of Brazil with Colombia e Venezuela.

There are 23 indigenous ethnic groups in the region. Sao Gabriel da Cachoeirathe most indigenous city in Brazil, is located in Cabeça do Cachorro.

The licenses allow gold prospecting in areas of 2,900 hectares, equivalent to 18 areas the size of the Ibirapuera park in São Paulo.

The endorsement for gold exploration given by the ANM (National Mining Agency), which precedes the operating licenses issued by the local environmental agency, indicates an even greater possibility of research. The two research permits allow operations on 14,800 hectares, or 92 Ibirapueras.

The beneficiary of the acts is the entrepreneur of Porto Velho (Rondônia) Avemar Roberto Rocha, who had already obtained authorization from General Augusto HelenoMinister of the Presidency’s GSI (Institutional Security Office), for gold prospecting in the Cabeça do Cachorro region.

Heleno is executive secretary of the National Defense Council and, due to this function, he is responsible for giving approval or not to mining projects in the border strip, in a width of 150 km.

In December 2021, the Sheet revealed that Heleno authorized the advancement of seven projects gold exploration on indigenous lands in the region, which is illegal and unconstitutional.

Faced with the revelation, the GSI minister – who is in his last days in office, with the defeat of the president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) at the polls– retreated and annulled his own acts.

Among the annulled acts is the one that benefited Rocha. This did not prevent him from proceeding with gold exploration projects in Cabeça do Cachorro.

In the case of the processes that advanced and resulted in operating licenses by the environmental agency of Amazonas, there is no information if they are within 150 km of the border, which would require action by the National Defense Council.

A Sheet did not find the businessman.

Ipaam and ANM did not respond to the report’s questions.

One of the licenses refers to the search for gold in the “bed of the Rio Negro, rural area of ​​the municipality of Barcelos”, according to public information from the Ipaam system.

The other operating license is for the same activity, in the “bed of the Unei creek, rural area of ​​the municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira”. In the case of this authorization, it was allowed to “apply prospecting process by dredging”.

Based on the geographic coordinates informed by the entrepreneur to ANM, the Sheet asked Ipam (Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia) to produce maps with the exact location of the polygons referring to the operating licenses. These maps show the close proximity of the polygons to indigenous lands.

Indigenous organizations and organizations that defend environmental guidelines that operate in the upper and middle Rio Negro region claim that gold mining in authorized areas has an inevitable impact on traditional territories.

This is due to the connection of the watercourses where the authorized polygons are to the rivers that cross the indigenous lands. In addition, according to the organizations, the access of a dredger to the areas would only be possible if it transits through these lands.

In September of this year, FOIRN (Federation of Indigenous Organizations of the Rio Negro) denounced the existence of a mining dredger operating on the banks of the Marié River, inside indigenous land.

The complaint was forwarded to Funai (National Indian Foundation)army, PF (Federal Police), Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources)ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) and MPF (Federal Public Ministry).

“Gold prospecting within indigenous lands is an environmental crime and violates the territorial rights of indigenous peoples, who have exclusive use of the natural resources that exist within their territories,” FOIRN said in the official letter.

The following month, the federation denounced the “invasion of armed traffickers” on indigenous lands on the Marié River.

The dredger photographed and denounced may belong to the businessman who received the operating licenses from Ipaam, according to members of the organizations that acted in the denunciation.

In July, FOIRN filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court in Amazonas against 60 active lawsuits in the ANM with the intention of exploring for gold in lands on the upper and middle Rio Negro.

The action took into account a survey of processes carried out by ISA (Instituto Socioambiental). On the list are four requests from the entrepreneur who obtained operating licenses from the government agency of Amazonas. One of these requirements refers to one of the licenses issued.

The 60 projects, if carried out, have the potential to impact the lives of 45,000 indigenous people, according to the lawsuit. The areas required for gold research and exploration add up to 149,000 hectares, almost the size of the city of São Paulo.

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