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Belo Sun: Brazil’s Largest Gold Mine to be near site of Belo Monte Dam


The mining project, named Belo Sun, developed by a Canadian Company with the same name, is waiting only to receive an environmental licence from the Brazilian government before it can proceed. According to information available on the environmental licensing website of Pará state (Sema-PA), on July 10 a draft version of the licence with technical and socio-environmental impact reports was submitted to legal assessors. However, a report published by ISA (Instituto Socio Ambiental) a couple of days later reveals that it is impossible to predict the consequences and impact of the mine once the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam starts to operate. ISA researchers also highlight the absence of any clear statement from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), the Brazilian government body that establishes and carries out policies relating to indigenous peoples, despite the fact that plans for the mine have been in the public domain for a long time, ever since the provisional licence was issued. As can be seen from the map, the mine is located just 9.5 km from the indigenous territory of Paquiçamba.  FUNAI is in the process of establishing a reserve for the Juruna indians who live here and their lives will almost certainly be severely disrupted by the new mine.


Volta Grande Project

The company Belo Sun Mineração Ltda is a Brazilian subsidiary of the Canadian Belo Sun Mining Corporation, owned by the Forbes & Manhattan Inc. group. The company holds a permit from the Brazilian National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM) to prospect for minerals in Volta Grande do Xingu region.

The mining company has submitted preliminary studies supporting their plan to establish a plant 10km from Belo Monte’s main dam. Researchers estimate that in the first 11 years of excavation the Belo Sun project should extract 37.8 million tons of ore.

Gold mining on the banks of the Xingu river will be opencast, since the ore deposits are close to the surface. According to an ISA report from last January, Belo Sun expects to employ 2,100 people. Extraction of gold would start in the first semester of 2015 with prospects for at least 20 years of extraction on the site. Nevertheless, the company has listed 21 socio-environmental programmes to mitigate the various impacts in the region including those to the life of local populations, who are already largely ignored by the plans, programmes and projects being developed in the same area for the Belo Monte Dam.

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