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Victory for small Amazon community


Just before Christmas, a federal judge ordered the gold mining company Ouro Roxo, which is controlled by Canadian capital, to suspend its activities in the Federal Conservation Area (APA) of Tapajós in the hamlet of São José in the rural district of Jacareacanga in the southeast of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon

The federal judge, Rafael Leite Paulo, took this decision, after unearthing a series of irregularities committed by the company. These included harming the life of the local community, failing to respect Torn plastic container used to mix cyanide with mining residuethe right of the local traditional miners to carry out their small-scale, artisanal mining, and using ‘unsuitable’ ways of extracting gold. Among the criticised practices was the use of cyanide without due precautions (see picture).

The judicial decision is a remarkable victory for the garimpeiros (miners) of  São José, who for many years now have been involved in a hugely unequal struggle against the foreign company, which succeeded in getting their artisanal mining activities banned.  

Just over a year ago a small team of LAB journalists visited Ouro Preto and wrote an article on the company’s treatment of the local community. Few journalists had ever visited this remote region and their articles, which were translated into Portuguese, were used by Brazil’s Public Ministry (MP-PA), in the case they brought against the company. It was the judge’s ruling in this case which has led to the suspension of the company’s activities.
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