Collective mobilization prevents the arrival of illegal mining in the Juruá River

Pressure from the social movement together with the inspection agencies leads to the destruction of the mining dredge that was operating illegally for about a month in the territory. 

By Clara Machado

In an operation carried out on November 17th in the municipality of Itamarati (AM), the inspection agencies  IBAMA and the Federal Police with support from ICMBio and the Military Police set fire to the mining dredge that had been illegally dredging in the Juruá River since the end of October. In cases of environmental crime, the seizure and destruction of instruments by the inspection agencies is provided for by the Brazilian Federal Decree 6.514/2008.

The mobilization of public and private institutions that operate in the region was essential to pressure the enforcement agencies to take action. On October 25th, the Forum of the Mid-Juruá Territory (Fórum TMJ), which brings together such institutions, filed a complaint with the Federal Public Ministry, which sent a letter to the responsible agencies demanding measures for immediate interruption of the illegal activity. The Forum also articulated a local mobilization against the mining and disseminated the news in the press in search of greater speed in the action. The secret operation counted on the cooperation of the inspection agencies and occurred in a peaceful way, without obstructing the main channel of the river.

During the operation, several engines, a radio communication system, an internet satellite network, about thirty thousand liters of fuel, tools used for gold extraction and many food items were found on the dredge. The evidence suggests that they planned to carry out the illegal activities over a long period of time.

The second raft that was present in the territory was spotted withdrawing before the enforcement agencies arrived on the scene, and could not be investigated. A community close to where the main raft was found was also dredging the river with a small community raft, which was also destroyed.

The enticement of rural communities by miners is an isolated reality, but it saddens the social movement in the region, which has a history of struggles against labor exploitation and develops collaborative forest conservation activities that generate income for the local population.

With the support of environmental enforcement agencies, the social and collective struggle for forest conservation continues and will not make room for the arrival of mining in the Juruá River, one of the most preserved areas of the Amazon, with rich biodiversity and toxin-free wate

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