THE SIEGE OF GOLD
At first, it looks like a floating house made of metal in the middle of the river. But once you look closely, you realize that there are huge cranes and pipes attached to this metallic structure that can be seen in the most diverse points of the Tapajós River. These are rafts with dredges, used to scour the riverbed in search for gold.
They are everywhere you look: our team saw floating rafts with mining dredges operating in the Tapajós River near Itaituba, near the Buburé port, near the Sawré Muybu village, and along the extension of the Sawré Muybu indigenous territory.
In general, these rafts have wooden structures and equipment that are not cheap: they cost around 20 thousand dollars. They work 24 hours a day, with noisy engines that consume just over 200 liters of diesel fuel per day. Expenses with fuel, alone, can reach for 700 dollars per week.
According to a study led by researchers from the National Committee in Defense of Territories against Mining, based in Brasília, the outbreak of mining registered in the Munduruku territories in 2020 – and in other Amazon Indigenous Lands and Brazilian lands – is directly linked to the gold’s price increase.
“The rise is undoubtedly related to the Covid-19 pandemic as this metal is safer in the face of volatile currency prices”, state the authors of The Siege of Gold: illegal mining, destruction, and struggle on Munduruku lands, published in 2021.
The boom of mining in the Munduruku territories can be seen clearly in the map below, produced by InfoAmazônia, which highlights the increase in illegal mining especially in the Upper Tapajós River, down to the Middle Tapajós, and approaching the Sawré Muybu indigenous territory, where is located Beka’s village.