Brazil to require electronic tax receipts for buying and selling gold

Illegal mining site in the Amazon. (Photo by IBAMA.)

Brazil’s government has announced that starting July 3 it will require electronic tax receipts for the buying and selling of gold in a move to crack down on illegal mining in the Amazon.

Currently, gold is sold with paper receipts based on the “good faith” of the seller, making it often impossible to trace its origin.

Between 2015 and 2020, Brazil traded 229 tonnes of gold with evidence of illegality, equivalent to almost half of the gold produced and exported by the country, according to a report from NGO Instituto Escolhas.

According to the report, there has been a seven-fold rise in deforestation caused by mining in the Amazon over the last seven years, from 18 square kilometers in 2015 to 121 square kilometers in 2021.

“This illegal practice of extracting ore is at the base of a series of criminal actions against people, the environment and the country’s economy. The mineral sector also suffers from unfair competition from illegal mining,” Raul Jungmann, CEO of the Brazilian Mining Association (IBRAM) said in a statement.

“The requirement for electronic tax receipts is a fundamental measure to start moralizing the sale of gold in Brazil. Finally, the country is starting to adopt measures to control mining in the Amazon”, added Larissa Rodrigues, portfolio manager at Instituto Escolhas.

President Lula’s new leftist government launched last month an enforcement operation to remove some 20,000 wildcat miners from the indigenous Yanomami reservation on the border with Venezuela after declaring a medical emergency due to deaths from malnutrition.

Recent studies have shown high levels of mercury contamination among Indigenous peoples caused by gold mining.

On May 10, 2021, two Yanomami children drowned after fleeing from gunshots fired by wildcat miners. Fifteen days later, miners burned down Munduruku leader Maria Leusa’s house.