Macapa. The Ministry of Environment in the northeastern Brazilian state of Amapá has fined 50 million Brazilian reals (nearly nine million US dollars) on a subsidiary of Canadian group Great Panther Mining Limited. According to expert reports, this has polluted the Amazon rivers with cyanide mercury, causing unprecedented fish deaths.
The affected municipality of Pedra Branca de Amabare is located about 200 km from the capital, Macapá. The region is one of the least economically developed regions in Brazil and is located in a logistically developed region on the borders with French Guiana and Suriname.
A high concentration of toxic cyanide, which is used in industrial gold mining, was found in a mining company’s sedimentation basin. Mina Tucano, which specializes in gold, is a subsidiary of Great Panther Mining Limited, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada with operations in Brazil, Mexico and Peru.
The expert opinion issued by the Ministry of Environment in Amapá showed the pollution caused by the discharge of industrial wastewater into the Sylvester and Aria rivers, which has caused a significant deterioration in water quality and fish mortality.
According to Environment Minister Josiane Ferreira, a comprehensive analysis showed that this pollution had “negative effects on the physical, biological, social and economic environment,” as evidenced by the significant loss of aquatic fauna.
River dwellers: Within the area around the gold mine, reports on local television in Amapá have lost their most important food source due to fish deaths and water pollution. In addition, many residents of the area had problems such as headaches and discomfort from water pollution.
Mining in the Amazon rainforest is still currently taking place outside of the identified indigenous areas of Brazil. However, a bill introduced by current President Jair Bolsonaro to Congress aims to allow mining companies and the self-employed to dig on indigenous reserves in the future. To this end, the project provides for the reduction of national parks and designated areas for indigenous peoples that the state granted them until 2019.
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